Friday, July 13, 2007

Sport Fishfeeding

Fish Feeding at Wat Sanku
Now this is a real sport. After almsround there's always some biscuits in my bowl which are just perfect to scrunch up and sprinkle in the Uposatha lake and let the fun begin :) There's real technique to it, though - this is not a beginners sport, and takes true sobriety and keen wit. Any idiot can just dump the whole bag of breadcrumbs into the murk and wait for the splashes to commence. I personally sprinkle a few crumbs about in the area just outside of the shade, so as to be afforded a good look at the sportsfish, but not so far out so that they refuse to leave their cool shady home. Then when the quick ones have made their noise darting back and forth and flinging water into the air in their excitement, I wait. Slowly, but surely, the leviathan come, knowing better than to dart out and be gobbled up by a mean long-legged bird; they are the ancient ones whose broken whiskers show like battle scars and whose mouths open like submarine vessels ready to receive their freight. I sprinkle some more out of appreciation for these, and squat down to tap their snouts with a finger as they gobble up their meal; but still I hold back a portion, waiting for the king of fish - a golden trout whose back can be seen a far distance off. When he comes I show my appreciation to him, giving him the victors share. So far, no snout taps, though; he's a cautious one, guarding his golden hide well.

The scene quickly disperses as it becomes clear the fare has been depleted. I have a brief moment to reflect on the slick, watery feeling of my brief physical contact with these beings, once so foreign and robotic. These are my friends, now; and I am theirs. Then a moment of reflection on some of the terrible things I've done to their kind, a moment of shame, and then gone. How impossible it seems to imagine one of my new friends on the end of a hook. How terrible their fate. I have stopped eating fish now; it doesn't sit well in my stomach any more :)

The Anguttara Nikaya mentions five great gifts which have been held in high esteem by noble-minded men from ancient times (A.iv,246). Their value was not doubted in ancient times, it is not doubted at present, nor will it be doubted in the future. The wise recluses and brahmans had the highest respect for them. These great givings comprise the meticulous observance of the Five Precepts*. By doing so one gives fearlessness, love and benevolence to all beings. If one human being can give security and freedom from fear to others by his behavior, that is the highest form of dana one can give, not only to mankind, but to all living beings.


The Buddha once explained that it is a meritorious act even to throw away the water after washing one's plate with the generous thought: "May the particles of food in the washing water be food to the creatures on the ground.".


* The five precepts are not to kill, not to steal, not to commit sexual misconduct, not to lie and not to take intoxicants