Gokan no ge (五観の偈)
Gokan no ge is gemon, meaning the verses recited before the meal, mainly in the Zen sect of Buddhism. It is simply a kind of table manners, but it's quoted by many people in other fields because it has great universality in its morality. Gokan no ge is also called "gokanmon," "shokuji gokanmon" or "shokujikun" in Japanese. Its source is "Shibunritsu Gyojisho" (one of commentaries of Vinaya Pitaka (ancient sutras in India)) written by Dosen (in pinyin, Daoxuan), a priest who lived in the era of the Tang Dynasty and was honorifically called Nanzan Daishi (Great Priest Nanshan). Gokan no ge became widely known after Dogen (founder of the Soto Zen sect) introduced it in his book entitled "How to Use Your Bowls."
First, I offer my sincerest gratitude to the many people who took pains to prepare this meal.
Second, I ask myself if my deeds are worthy of my eating this meal.
Third, I swear never to be greedy in order to keep a well-balanced mind and avoid wrongdoings.
Fourthly, I will have this meal as a good medicine to keep my health and gain energy.
Fifthly, I will have this meal in order to correctly carry out the Buddha's teachings.
Firstly, I offer my sincerest gratitude to many people who took pains to prepare this meal.
Secondly, I ask myself if my deeds are worthy of eating this meal.
Thirdly, I swear never to be greedy in order to keep a well-balanced mind and to avoid wrongdoings.
Fourthly, I will have this meal as a good medicine to keep my health and to gain energy.
Fifthly, I will have this meal to carry out the Buddha's teachings rightly.
The Japanese way on how to read the original Chinese passages differs somewhat from sect to sect.
According to the Rinzai Zen sect, including Obaku school, the third verse is read as, 'Thirdly, I swear not to indulge myself in excessive greed and other kinds of vice.'