yes, even more......
Oryoki (formal) meals
- FIrst don't be frightened, it is complicated but usually the retreat coordinator will sit you between two experienced people so you just keep watching them and follow along as best you can. Just be gentle about it. And everyone there knows INTIMATELY exactly how many years it takes to learn to do it, so relax. Zen centers will often give oryoki instruction before the retreat. This does not mean that you are in any way expected to learn it at the lesson, it is just a beginning slight familiarization exercise.
- Do notice who serves who/how. Most places will have experienced people assigned to serve the food, but the condiment trays are often passed by the people sitting.
- IMPORTANT - how you indicate you how much food you want (and the ever important - how to make them stop) - usually if you want what is being served, just before the server gets to you, you hold your hands in gassho in front of your face (but I think that at some zen centers this gesture means "no, thanks" so do check on this), then when the server is in front of you, you hold out your bowl with two hands. If you want a little more, one hand with the thumb and forefinger about 1/2 inch apart indicates this. If you have enough, you hold your bowl in your left hand, and turn your right palm up (next to the bowl) make a slight upward motion. This is the signal for enough. However, the servers may only serve you so much based on how much food there is and how many people there are. Usually there are second portions served. (note, if you are at a Kwan Um zen center, the "no more, thanks" gesture is to hold the bowl in two hands and turn it a couple inches in each direction, back and forth).
- MOST IMPORTANT - at every zen center I have been to you are required to eat everything in your bowls. And I do mean that after the rinse tea (which you drink). You have consumed every scrap and your bowl looks perfectly clean.