Meditation and Prayer
by Mark Lloyd Taylor, Ph.D.
My brothers and sisters, may God be with you! The sacred scriptures of the Hindu and Buddhist religions all tell stories or pass along sayings about hospitality. I invite us to muse on those sacred writings this week.
In Buddhism, hospitality (sakkāra) is the act of being welcoming and helpful to guests (atithi or pāhunaka), strangers (āgantuka) and travellers (addhika). For the Buddha, hospitality should be shown to all, whatever their caste, religious affiliation or status. The Tipiṭaka often says that the Buddha was “welcoming, friendly, polite and genial” towards everyone who came to see him (D.I,116). The Milindapañha said that, if a guest turned up at a person’s house after all the food had been eaten, more rice should be cooked in order to feed him and allay his hunger (Mil.107). The Buddha considered failure to reciprocate hospitality to be very bad form. He said: “Whoever goes to another’s house and is fed but does not feed them when they come to his house, consider him an outcaste.” (Sn.128). The Jātaka says: “If for even one night one stops in another’s house and receives food and drink, have no evil thought, for to do so would be to burn an extended hand and betray a good friend.” (Ja.VI,310).
Sisters and brothers, these words from our holy books encourage me and challenge me this week. Guided by the stories of the Eastern religions, let us pray:
Blessed are you, O God, ruler of the universe and our maker.
You bestow upon us from your bounty the gifts of food and fellowship.
Surprise us this week with the birth of new and unexpected beginnings.
Open our eyes this week to all that is holy, hidden right in front of us.
Call us back this week from our wasteful ways;
send us out in compassion to those brothers and sisters
whom we have deprived of food and conversation.
O Holy One of Blessing, teach us all, Hindus and Buddhists,
Jews, Christians, and Muslims,
that eating and talking together can create harmony among our peoples.
Grant this, most merciful God, for the sake of your righteous name.
School of Theology and Ministry Prayer Cycle: We pray today for Joanna Owen, staff; Maureen McLaughlin-Crawford and Norma Melo, students.