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Thread: Oryoki lunch! etc.

  1. #1

    Oryoki lunch! etc.

    For Christmas this year my wife got me a students oryoki set o/
    For my "Right This Moment Not A Resolution Just Change", I decided to eat an oryoki lunch every day at work. Why? Why not :P


    I decided to do so to curb my monstrous (in portions and quality of nourishment) eating habits while at work. I decided on only brown rice and curried stir steamed veggies and dropped the pop for tea. In addition to a healthier lunch im getting a full lunch period, mostly uninterrupted and i manage to get an extra sitting in a day (a good thing too since mornings are proving less fruitful!

    Other bonuses of this have been lots of needed oryoki practice of course im still and elephant on a unicycle- oh and folks have also stopped interrupting my lunch too. I never said a word or even closed my office door (not that it ever stopped anyone - all glass doors and 2 giant windows with no blinds ). Its been going well and Its making a difference in my day to day operations at much approachable and definately a bit more energetic then with the normal junk lunch in rush.

    So I've been reviewing the steps and re watched the Zazenaki prep videos and such to help out. In my travels i found a helpful little pdf booklet 48 pages long on oryoki as well. I found it helpful so i thought id pass it along. May not have the best way of doing things... i really couldn't tell you as im a complete newb but its worth a peek. Perhaps Jundo or Taigu, you could say for sure - any who here is the link :

  2. #2

    Re: Oryoki lunch! etc.

    Will try.
    Why? Why Not.

    Kind Regards,

  3. #3

    Re: Oryoki lunch! etc.

    Thanks Shohei!

  4. #4

    Re: Oryoki lunch! etc.

    Hey Dirk,

    Thanks for posting this! My wife and daughter got me oryoki set as well. It was real show stopper on Christmas morning as they were not quite sure what it was and forgot they had bought it. So when I opened it they were as surprised as I was.

    Nice idea to eat oryoki at lunch each day. The pdf file you posted looks interesting...lots of detail.


  5. #5

    Re: Oryoki lunch! etc.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dirk
    So I've been reviewing the steps and re watched the Zazenaki prep videos and such to help out. In my travels i found a helpful little pdf booklet 48 pages long on oryoki as well. I found it helpful so i thought id pass it along. May not have the best way of doing things... i really couldn't tell you as im a complete newb but its worth a peek. Perhaps Jundo or Taigu, you could say for sure - any who here is the link :
    Hi Dirk,

    The way of Oryoki which we used for the two-day Retreat, and which I showed on the Zazenkai prep videos, was a down and dirty, 'wing it' version of Oryoki practice.

    DO NOT practice that way if one wants to approach true Oryoki.

    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.; As well, 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!) ...

    ... 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.

    Here are 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 ...

    I have learned it a dozen times (for about each time I have attended a formal Sesshin here in Japan) ... and promptly forgotten the fine points afterwards for lack of use every day (and so, the learning repeats each time). If you do not use the full routine each day, the body forgets.

    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.

    The best book is this, the source of the Zen River instructions. (It is the fourth book down in this list) ... iryo01.htm

    You might email here and see if they will send you a copy (maybe at no charge) ... erica.html

    I believe that Upaya instructions are a slightly (not too much) abbreviated form for Westerners, although the spirit is there.

    This book is out there too, by Trungpa's lineage (he liked Oryoki, learned from his friend Suzuki Roshi, I believe, and incorporated it in his Tibetan teachings). However, I have not read the book and cannot speak of the contents which seem to incorporate Tibetan practices. ... lications/

    I have not found any good videos on the web, English or Japanese, that show how it is really done (including the ones I made).

    Gassho, Jundo

  6. #6

    Re: Oryoki lunch! etc.

    Thank you Jundo!
    Im going to write the us sotoshu office and ask if i could purchase a copy of that booklet.
    Im practicing with the more elaborate-stripped down way using the meal chants from the Rohatsu retreat guide dealy.
    With no correction or sometimes (Aka alot :P) confusion it is a bit of a slow process. Loved that chopstick vid


  7. #7

    Re: Oryoki lunch! etc.

    What a great idea! lunch for me is usual eaten in my cubbie while quickly chomping down whatever I happened to grab running out the door that morning. NOT GOOD. I may give this a shot this coming week.

    Thanks for posting this!


  8. #8
    Member bayamo's Avatar
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    Nov 2009
    Campinas, São Paulo, Brazil

    Re: Oryoki lunch! etc.

    GASSHO!! I was trying to find more info on tis. That booklet is great, zillion thanks Shohei dude!!

  9. #9

    Re: Oryoki lunch! etc.

    Hi Hi!
    In another Thread i shared the link from sotoshu where they have images and text describing the very calculated dance. Can be a bit confusing really since the procedure is usually done with more than just one So reading these is more like learning to dance alone ...rather like those numbered feet on the floor...they are a great help...with a good dance instructor! Of course no one ever says you have to have an instructor, partner or feet to dance a good dance!

    Da dant dant dant... da dant dant dant....


  10. #10

    Re: Oryoki lunch! etc.

    Sometime this year ... on the "to do/to non-do" list ... is my making a film showing all the movements of Oryoki in its full, traditional form.

    We do a very quick, simplified, down and dirty version for our annual retreat ... but the traditional way is a ballet. It is a wonderful practice, one of the practices that the Japanese developed that, I believe, is worth keeping even though it is "old and traditional".

    It just takes a little practice to get it into the body memory, and then one dances and is danced without giving it a thought.

    Gassho, J

  11. #11

    Re: Oryoki lunch! etc.

    Great thread. I am planning on purchasing a set, and slowly learn the abbreviated version during my lunch time. What a wonderful way to "sit" during what typically is a stressful, hectic, work day.

  12. #12

    Re: Oryoki lunch! etc.

    hellos to all posting here

    traditions keep going because there are persons who continue them

    traditions have a wisdom to them, this wisdom is born out of the circumstances in which they arose

    it is not always easy to understand--for example certain gestures arise because of the clothing worn--if you have long sleeves, you must attend to not dragging them across and into things--

    but there is something also about the novelty aspect of what I call 'zen toys'
    sure, enjoy the novelty to the hilt, explore the 'toys' thoroughly
    take the toys to work
    sleep with them next to you
    wake up and see them first thing
    hold them with appreciation

    infatuation is a kind of drunkenness, dulling and heightening experiences simultaneously, specific and general, unique and generic
    This bowl, Any bowl, Every bowl

    your very own cupped hands as 'bowl'

    this bowl--this special gift, in support of my practice, given by friends, by family
    any bowl--I have picked for this purpose, this object used for these prescribed movements in prescribed manner
    every bowl--ever encountered in my past, my present, every bowl not yet manufactured awaiting my future use; all are 'oryoki'

    my own cupped hands--the first bowl/cup that ever was!--these hands, and all these hands....

    In attending multiple day sessions the function of rohatsu/oryoki (meals together) becomes apparent: eating together in a way that continues 'sitting' same as kinhin allows a group of people to take a bathroom break and stretch legs in a way which continues 'sitting'

    eating oryoki by oneself is kind of like being one oarsman on an empty viking ship
    the spirit of oryoki: togetherness, action.
    there is more oryoki, to my way of thinking, if you joined your coworkers for lunch, if you opened your sandwich from home as they opened theirs, and if you shared your bag of chips (crisps for the Anglos out there). I want to practice my chopsticks? I can take 'em to the lunchroom or to the pub with me. I can pick up those french fries or my pickles from home with them, "Hey" I can tell the others "I want to get better at using these things!"
    these zen toys in the end aren't to set me apart from and aren't to make me different or special
    zen is the most inclusive thing I know

    and what do I know?

    not much, I assure you!

  13. #13

    Re: Oryoki lunch! etc.

    ^^ i completely agree!
    I just needed to practice oryoki in some kinda preparation. As you pointed out though its very much a loan being in a boat with many oars!

    Thank you


  14. #14

    Re: Oryoki lunch! etc.

    PS Shohei:

    Is 'skullday' picture posted a real dance?

    I hope our oryoki bowls get to take us with them to places where there are others who use them too!

  15. #15

    Re: Oryoki lunch! etc.

    Ha I wondered too - Its a dance if you can swing it. I am all thumbs when it comes to dancing ops:


  16. #16

    Re: Oryoki lunch! etc.

    Thank you, Keishin. You speak my mind.

    These things must not be treated as a toy, a hobby, a conversation piece for a cocktail party. We do not do them because they look cool, are Japanese, are mysterious or make us feel superior.

    I recommend Oryoki (the full blown version ... not the half ass version I cooked up for our winter retreat on the fly) because it is a wonderful practice ... as you say, "eating in a way that continues 'sitting' same as kinhin".

    I have had a couple of posts and talks in the past on which "old Chinese Japanese stuff" is worth keeping, which is just "old Chinese Japanese culture" and not necessarily vital to practice. One does not need tatami mats, or to dress like an old Chinese mandarin, to be sitting Zazen. Here is what I usually say on that topic ...

    This practice is not limited to any place or time ... we drop all thought of place and time. It certainly is not Indian, Chinese, Japanese, French or American. But, of course, we live in place and time, so as Buddhism traveled over the centuries from India to China, Japan, Korea etc. it naturally became very Indian/Chinese/Japanese?Korean etc.

    But what of the cultural trappings?

    Must we bow, ring bells, chant (in Japanese, no less), wear traditional robes, have Buddha Statues, burn incense? ... All that stuff besides Zazen. Are they necessary to our Practice?

    No, not at all!

    We don't need anything other than Zazen, any of those trappings. In fact, they are no big deal, of no importance, when we drop all viewpoints in sitting Zazen.

    On the other hand, we have to do something, to greet each other somehow, read some words, dress some way. Why not do such things? As I often say, for example, we have to do something with our hands when practicing walking Zazen ... why not hold them in Shashu (I mean, better than sticking 'em in your pockets)?


    As well, there are parts of our practice which we do BECAUSE we resist (for example, when visiting a temple for Retreat, I usually put my heart fully into ceremonies and arcane rituals BECAUSE I resist and think some of it silly or old fashioned). Ask yourself where that kind of resistance is to be found (here's a clue, and it is right behind your own eyes).

    What is more, there is method to the madness, and many (not all) customs have centuries of time tested benefits ... embody subtle perspectives ... that support and nurture Zazen Practice at the core. Many parts of our Practice, though "exotic", are worth keeping, even if they strike someone as strange at first. Bowing, statues, rigid decorum in the Zen Hall 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. I have given talks on all these things recently, for example ...

    Bowing ... ... eat-3.html

    On the other hand again, it is okay to abandon or reject many practices. However, KNOW very well what you are rejecting before you reject it. For example, I wrote this to someone awhile back about which of the "Japanese trappings" are worth keeping and which can be discarded. I wrote him:

    Absorb what is useful and discard the rest. For example, I think Oryoki [formal meal ritual] is a great practice, and worth keeping.. Same for bowing.

    Some things I keep out of respect for TRADITION [the robes, the ways of doing some ceremonies]. It is important to keep ties to where we come from. Some things also have a special symbolic meaning if you look into them, so worth keeping [for example, a Rakusu]

    But other stuff, no need to keep: For example, I usually avoid to chant in Japanese or Chinese [except once in awhile, out of respect for tradition]. Tatami mats and Paper screens have nothing to do with Zen practice particularly [but I happen to live in an old Japanese building, so ... well, tatami and paper screens!} Some things I think are just dumb (except symbolically), like the Kyosaku stick. Incense is great, until it was recently shown to cause cancer. Many beliefs of Buddhism are rather superstitious things that were picked up here and there. I abandon many of those.
    The outer wrap of Zen Buddhism is changing greatly as it moves West. The greater emphasis on lay practice over monastics, the greater democracy in what was a feudal institution (arising in societies where the teacher's word was law ... oh, those were the days! :wink: ), giving the boot to a lot of magico-supersticio hocus-pocus bunkum, the equal place of women ... heck, the use of the internet to bring teachings that were once the preserve of an elite few into everyone's living room.Those are good and great changes to the outer wrapping (you can read about them in books like this one (author interview here: ... anChat.htm ). The coreless core, however, remains unchanged.

    Do not throw out the baby with the bath water. Many completely "Japanese" practices which seem silly at first are worth keeping. ...

    ... other things, like some of the arcane incense, bell & drum filled rituals, take them or leave them.

    Gassho (an Asian custom), Jundo (a Dharma name)

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