The practice I struggle the most with at the retreat center is oryoki. It’s a ritual Zen way of eating “just enough” that synchronizes body and mind. Maybe I’m resistant to it because it gets me at my most vulnerable – when I’m hungry!
I”m resistant to the practice of oryoki because it gets me at my most vulnerable – when I’m hungry!
In this practice, you have three bowls in front of you along with a spoon, a small cleaning paddle, chopsticks, and a napkin. It all comes in a bundle and there’s a ritual for untying the bundle and placing everything in front of you in a specific order. The portions are small and when the meal is over – this is the worst part, water is passed around in a kettle, you wash all your utensils in your own bowls and then ……. Ugh! …… drink the wash water!
I don’t mean to make fun of this practice. It’s much more civilized than eating the way we often do – wolfing down all the food on our plates in a few minutes without consciously looking at it. How often do we stop to think where the food came from, who grew it, and who cooked it? Do we pause to enjoy the colors and textures before we dig in? There’s nothing meditative about the way we usually eat! In oryoki, we are encouraged to consider all these things.
By now, you must think I’m bad at every retreat practice but in truth, I learn a great deal about myself and how I resist being told what to do, how to eat, how to meditate, how to arrange flowers … the list goes on. I will leave the retreat with a lot to share with Max and to share with you on my return.
In a couple of weeks I’ll be back writing my usual journal entries about my quirky characters and Ah-Ha! moments.
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