Korean Temple Food
With Gratitude for Life and Prayers for Peace



After the Buddha attained awakening,
two lay Buddhists offered him his first meal. At that time, each of the four
heavenly kings offered a stone bowl to the Buddha, from which the Buddha
ate and then stacked together. Following this example, disciples of the
Buddha also began using four bowls for their meals, creating a tradition
that is still practiced today.

During the formal monastic meal ceremonies at Korean Buddhist temples, a set
of wooden bowls called baru are used to serve food. The ceremony is named
baru-meal or barugongyang after the bowls. The bowls come in a set of four to
five and each piece is slightly smaller than the previous one so that they can
all fit into the biggest bowl for convenient storage and portability. Eosibaru
(or Buddha-baru) is the largest bowl exclusively reserved to hold rice and the
second largest bowl is gook-baru (or Bodhisattva-baru) for soup.

They are followed by cheonsu-baru (or Sravaka-baru) along with banchan-baru
(or Pratyeka-baru). When there are five pieces of baru bowls, the smallest bowl is
called shishikbaru and used to offer meals to beings in hell, hungry ghosts
and asuras, but it is seldom used.

When your knees are frozen like ice, do not think about resting in warmth
When your stomach is pierced by pain of hunger, do not think of eating

Balsim suhaeng jang (An Essay on Arising the Aspiration for Enlishtenment),
by Wonhyo (617-686, Buddhist Master from the Silla period)