Before I eat, I bless my food. For many people, saying grace in childhood was a time of impatience when adults were controlling the situation, but I've discovered that it can become a moment to reawaken a living truth. When I get food, I hold the food up or sit with my hands beside my plate, and I say a blessing. And then I just think about it for a moment, and I realize that this whole ritual of praying over food is part of all form, it's part of law, it's part of the universe.
I start to experience a quietness, and then I understand that the deeper I appreciate that it is all one, the deeper I become one with it all and sense that all separateness is over.
The food I'm praying over, the bowl of oatmeal or whatever I'm eating, is part of God, and I, who am offering up this food, am part of God. And the hunger that I'm using the oatmeal to quiet—the pangs in my stomach, the desires, the fire that will consume this food—that's also part of God. And I begin to sense the oneness of everything; I start to experience a quietness, and then I understand that the deeper I appreciate that it is all one, the deeper I become one with it all and sense that all separateness is over.
Gratitude Becomes Habit
I use this prayer all the time to remind me of this reality, to bring me home. I've gotten to the point that now I really can't sit down to a meal without doing this. Even when I'm in a restaurant, sometimes I just quietly go inward.
So I suggest that the next time you are waiting for food to be served and you are feeling impatient or hungry, use that experience as a chance to think of God. And then when you receive the food, say a blessing and let the food remind you that all is one. Then eat. Rituals can be rigid things, or they can come alive. Over time as you practice it, watch as this ritual of blessing becomes a living statement of your connection to the Divine, of your at-oneness with everything manifest in the universe.
Food Blessing from the Bhagavad Gita
There are many ways to bless food. You may already have a blessing you like. This prayer from the Bhagavad Gita, is the one I use. I say it and then pause to think about it for a moment before I eat.
Brahmarpanam Brahma Havir
Brahmagnau Brahmana Hutam
Brahmaiva Tena Gantavyam
The act of offering is Brahman.
The offering itself is Brahman.
The offering is done by Brahman in the sacred fire which is Brahman.
He alone attains Brahman, who, in all actions, is fully absorbed in Brahman.
Ram Dass (Richard Alpert) is a teacher and writer. His book, Be Love Now: The Path of the Heart, is a sequel to his 1970s classic Remember, Be Here Now.