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Thread: Oryoki

  1. #1

    Oryoki

    Hi Everyone,

    I have been learning/practicing the formal monastery meal, oryoki. I thought the sangha may be interested in learning it as well as it can be a good way to practice mindfulness while eating, although surely not necessary.

    Here's a video from ZMM on the procedure and background that is quite good. I'm not sure how, if at all, it differs from the practice here at Treeleaf so maybe Jundo could comment as well.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J21UkiKnIQA[/video]]

    Gassho,

    Shawn

  2. #2

    Re: Oryoki

    Quote Originally Posted by shards
    Hi Everyone,

    I have been learning/practicing the formal monastery meal, oryoki. I thought the sangha may be interested in learning it as well as it can be a good way to practice mindfulness while eating, although surely not necessary.

    Here's a video from ZMM on the procedure and background that is quite good. I'm not sure how, if at all, it differs from the practice here at Treeleaf so maybe Jundo could comment as well.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J21UkiKnIQA[/video]]

    Gassho,

    Shawn
    Hi Shawn,

    We will do an abbreviated form, with all the heart (but not all the moves) for our online Rohatsu Retreat in December. Participants will make a "do it your non-self" Oryoki kit for that ... out of such items as a pillow case and bowls from around the kitchen.

    Details on that as we get closer to the Retreat ...

    John B, our Tea Master, could speak much of the meaning of Oryoki as the Tea Ceremony shares much in common. For those who don't know, traditional Oryoki practice consists of scores of set movements for eating, each of which must be learned and mastered, much like a ballet. I once wrote this ...

    True Oryoki practice is very traditional, and very Japanese, but that is neither reason to accept or reject the practice. Many parts of our Practice are worth keeping, even if they strike someone as strange at first. Bowing, statues, incense and, yes, weird talks about Koans all fit in that category. They may seem like unnecessary "Japanese" or "Esoteric" elements at first, until you understand the role they serve....same for Rakusu/Kesa sewing. And I think Oryoki formal meal ritual is a great practice, and worth keeping. Sometimes, Japanese can get a bit too caught up in rigid form (I have shown videos like this many times that make fun of that ... but worth watching again and again in our Zen practice. HILARIOUS and TRUE!) ...

    http://www.ebaumsworld.com/video/watch/80510901/

    ... still, the practice of comformity to form, finding liberation in rigidity, has endless depth.

    To truly 'master' Oryoki, dozens and dozens of set movements, like a ballet, must be memorized with the 'body memory' (much like learning a dance). Oryoki is a form of moving Zazen, teaching freedom amid the confining actions. It can NEVER be done right, without mistakes. Like life. Still, we strive to master the form.

    Oryoki is a dance, a ballet ... Oryoki is one of those additions that Zen practice picked up on its way through Japan that is worth keeping. It is a shame that a large number of "foreigners" never try to do it right, and that most teachers don't teach it that way to their non-Japanese students. I am no different in how I teach it ... I will cut corners for our retreat by necessity, although I will encourage folks to try to get as close as possible to the "right" way.
    Here is a small sample, this merely for wiping and repacking the spoon, chopsticks and settsu (bowl washing stick) at the end of the meal ...

    1) Pick up spoon in right hand with the handle pointing toward you. Put it in your left hand. Pick up setsu with right hand; put bowl of spoon into water in middle bowl and clean it with setsu. Do both sides. Hold spoon straight.

    2) Put setsu in middle bowl, pointing straight out. Put spoon in right hand. With left hand, fold the exposed corner of the drying cloth over the bowl of the spoon without taking the cloth out of the Buddha bowl. Wipe bowl of spoon; turn spoon 180 degrees so bowl is pointing toward you and push it through cloth.

    3) Spoon is now in your right hand, bowl down and pointing left. Without picking up utensil holder, slide spoon into it. (The opening in utensil holder should be on your right, with the fold on the left.)

    4) Repeat steps 1) and 2) above with chopsticks.

    5) In left hand pick up folded utensil holder that contains spoon. Slide sticks into utensil holder, toward you. Work utensils to bottom with right hand. Do not let utensils drop of their own weight.

    6) Fold over the utensil holder and replace it in front of you, this time with the opening on the left. The pointed half is on top, with the opening down (not visible). Fold is now on the right.
    Here are longer, but still ABBREVIATED!! written instructions, with some photos, explaining some of the several hundred set gestures that must be learned to do Oryoki "right" ...

    Notice the delicate and precise hand placement in each photo ...

    http://www.zenriver.nl/Oryoki.htm

    We will be doing a simplified, sometimes improvised and creative version but, I hope, no less mindful. The attitude and spirit are the most important.

    I did make some training materials to teach Oryoki to our novice Priests in training, including a "How To Non-Do" film. Maybe we can have a training course here online for folks who are interested. Hmmm. something to consider.

    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 09-25-2013 at 03:32 AM.

  3. #3

    Re: Oryoki

    Nice Find Shawn!
    Thanks for sharing it

    Gassho
    Shohei

  4. #4

    Re: Oryoki

    Thanks for the video!!!!

  5. #5
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Oryoki

    Hi All,

    Here is another very nice video on Oryoki from Dharma Field(located here in Minnesota).
    Enjoy
    http://www.dharmafield.org/Video/Oryoki.mp4

    Gassho,
    John

  6. #6

    Re: Oryoki

    Quote Originally Posted by JRBrisson
    Hi All,

    Here is another very nice video on Oryoki from Dharma Field(located here in Minnesota).
    Enjoy
    http://www.dharmafield.org/Video/Oryoki.mp4

    Gassho,
    John
    Thank you, John. They have made some small cultural modifications, such as forks in place of chopsticks, but it is a lovely traditional Oryoki.

    By the way, it seems that Oryoki is largely a Japanese creation, and monks in China do not traditionally do so. In my understanding, monks in China either gather in a dining all or take some small meals in the Zendo. They do some chanting before eating, but otherwise simply eat in silence without so much formality of movement. As you know, John, as a tea master yourself ... such emphasis on "Kata" and form in movement is rather more pronounced in Japanese culture than on the mainland.

    Gassho, J

  7. #7
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Re: Oryoki

    Thanks Shawn! This is so very interesting.

    I have read about Oryoki but I have never had the chance to see it. So many steps!

    But as my old Karate-Do sensai used to say: perfection comes from kata. I'll try to practice this so I can train for our retreat.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Oryoki

    Jundo wrote:
    They have made some small cultural modifications, such as forks in place of chopsticks, but it is a lovely traditional Oryoki.
    I was expecting ohashi, so I couldn't help but give a chuckle when, much to my surprise, the silverware came out instead
    An understandable change considering many people here don't use them enough to feel comfortable.
    Jundo wrote:
    John B, our Tea Master, could speak much of the meaning of Oryoki as the Tea Ceremony shares much in common.
    Just to touch on what I have experienced through the practice of tea....
    Kaiseki, the meal served during a Chaji(formal tea gathering), is modeled off of Zen's Oryoki. Kaiseki literally means Kai(fold of the kimono) Seki(stone) and is believed to be such named after a hot stone Zen priest would wrap in cloth and put in their kimono pressing against the stomach to stave off hunger.
    Kaiseki consist of one soup and three side dishes which are designed to be just enough food to temporarily ease hunger. One addition not found in Oryoki is the introduction of sake as part of the meal. This is also the only part of the meal which the host will consume together with the guests. After serving sake to the guests, they will in turn, each serve the host.

    Oryoki looks like a beautiful practice which I am eager to experience during this years Treeleaf Rohatsu!

    Gassho,
    John

  9. #9
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: Oryoki

    My wife and I and a young couple, a co-worker and his wife, took a meal at the Vegetarian Restaurant at Takedera http://on.fb.me/rS9hh7 ; a Buddhist Temple close by Hanno Shi, Saitama Prefecture. A small town on the way to Chichibu. The meall is prepared and served entirely by the monks. At one point a monk came to our table and served drinks from a bamboo tube. As he was pouring he offered one word, "Medicine." The young man with us took a sip and proclaimed, "That's not medicine, that's sake!" :shock: Upon which the monk turned to him very sternly and said, "No ..... Medicine!"
    The fluid in my cup also tasted alot like sake :lol:

  10. #10
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: Oryoki

    :lol:
    What a great story!! Thanks for sharing Shokai _/_

  11. #11

    Re: Oryoki

    Quote Originally Posted by Shokai
    My wife and I and a young couple, a co-worker and his wife, took a meal at the Vegetarian Restaurant at Takedera http://on.fb.me/rS9hh7 ; a Buddhist Temple close by Hanno Shi, Saitama Prefecture. A small town on the way to Chichibu. The meall is prepared and served entirely by the monks. At one point a monk came to our table and served drinks from a bamboo tube. As he was pouring he offered one word, "Medicine." The young man with us took a sip and proclaimed, "That's not medicine, that's sake!" :shock: Upon which the monk turned to him very sternly and said, "No ..... Medicine!"
    The fluid in my cup also tasted alot like sake :lol:
    Hi Shokai,

    Japanese Buddhist priests today get married, eat meat and fish, and are free to drink alcohol ... in moderation. (Well, not "get married" in moderation, but you get my point! ops: ). A few weeks ago, I attended a major conference presented by the Japanese Soto-shu, inviting Soto priests from around the world. At the end there was a party where, sure enough, wine and beer were served and we all toasted the success of the conference (not everyone drank, but many did). It reminds me of the time, a few years ago, where I was invited to an "end of the year" party at Sojiji at which the Abbot of the monastery, the then "Pope" of the Soto sect, attended with several high ranking Roshi "cardinals". Not only did we refill each others' sake glasses a few, but the "Pope" turned out to be an excellent Karaoke singer!

    Soto Zen clergy keep two feet firmly planted on the earth and in daily life, even if their mind is up in the timeless heavens! I think it a good thing. The Middle Way, All Things In Moderation, avoiding excess. That includes alcohol (I am a "glass of red wine with dinner" fellow).

    Gassho, Jundo

    ** Of course, for some of us --even a single drop-- is poison and to be avoided entirely. At that same conference, I met Maezumi Roshi's brother, also a Soto priest. I had the honor of attending a lecture by Maezumi Roshi in the early 90's at the brother's temple, not far from Tokyo. Maezumi Roshi died there not long after, drowning in the bathtub in an alcohol related accident. He struggled with alcoholism all his life. Alcoholism is a disease, like cancer, that can touch even a "Buddhist Master". Chogyam Trungpa is another example. I sometimes say that what happened to Maezumi Roshi and many teachers just shows my point that, no matter how long we practice this Zazen thiing ... and no matter how much we "master" its ways and see through the "self" ... we are still "selfs" until we leave this world. It is no different for Maezumi Roshi or Trungpa ... we are always humans with human emotions that we need to manage like a hungry tiger or inner caveman ... That does not excuse acting in hurtful ways to others or oneself, but human beings act badly sometimes ... even folks who have the Precepts to guide them.

  12. #12
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: Oryoki

    Jundo-oso wrote;
    That does not excuse acting in hurtful ways to others or oneself, but human beings act badly sometimes ... even folks who have the Precepts to guide them.
    This is perhaps why we need this medicine; nothing to excess, it's all good medicine

  13. #13
    Senior Member Nindo's Avatar
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    Re: Oryoki

    I just found this wonderful text reflecting on Oryoki and wanted to share:

    http://www.35u35.com/submissions/the-gift-of-failure/

  14. #14

    Re: Oryoki

    Quote Originally Posted by Nindo
    I just found this wonderful text reflecting on Oryoki and wanted to share:

    http://www.35u35.com/submissions/the-gift-of-failure/

    A wonderful essay, Nindo. Thank you for sharing.

    Let's make "The Gift of Failure" the theme of our whole Rohatsu Retreat this year!

    Gassho, Jundo

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