On a recent meditation retreat to Tokei-in temple in Shizuoka Japan, Patrick made this video about the Zen monk 3 bowl eating tradition of oryoki. Many thanks to Brad Warner (http://hardcorezen.blogspot.com ) for leading the retreat and to Dogen S...
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Studies in a real temple is a great experience. One of my favorite parts of it is the eating tradition of oryoki, the three bowls. Hi, I am Patrick and today we are going to go into the details of oryoki, three bowl eating. We will talk about how you can bring some of these things into your own daily life. What you do is you use one oryoki set for the entire time. As you can see an oryoki set consists of a large white cloth, square in shape, smaller cloth, chopsticks, and what looks like one bowl, becomes three. All meals are served and eaten in silence. In this eating tradition, you always show respect to the food and the server who brings it, by bowing deeply with gassho. The largest bowl is always used for rice. Because this is a silent practice, when the server has given you enough, you simply raise your fingers like this. Never taking more than you can actually eat. The medium size bowl is always used for miso soup. As before, when the server has given you enough, you simply raise your fingers. The final, smallest bowl is for pickles. Japanese pickles can be made of any number of things; daikon, radish, to spring onions, to ginger. They are great for cleansing the palate. As you will see later, have a special use in this oryoki style. Now that everything has been served, we can eat with a quiet appreciation for the food that gives us life. So now I have finished eating, and the next step is to wash my bowls in preparation for the next meal. The server brings hot water that he or she pours into the largest bowl. You might notice that I have eaten everything except for one large, in this case, pickle. I am going to use this pickle as kind of a sponge, mixing it with the hot water and scrubbing it around, knocking off any loose rice or anything leftover from my meal. The acidity of the pickle also serves to neutralize germs. Here I pour the water, pickle, and all into the medium size bowl. Now, taking that second cloth that we have had from the beginning, I am going to wipe and dry largest of the bowls. The steps are repeated for the second bowl. This time pouring the leftover water into the smallest pickle bowl. You will notice that we are all out of bowls now, so what I am going to do with this water? Well, in the oryoki tradition nothing is wasted. This last bit of water is given to the hungry ghosts or gaki. Those are souls who weren't satisfied in their previous life and who now wander, trying to be released from this world. Taking the water that is poured into a separate container. Later this water will be poured onto the ground or left outside for the ghosts to enjoy. So all the bowls are now dry and I keep them back together. The last step is to repack everything, so it's nice and neat for the next meal. Holding up the second napkin, putting it aside with the chopsticks, and opening up to a full square, and pull the top and the bottom down into the socket of the bowl. Here, rest the chopsticks on the top, along with the napkin. The next step may look really fancy, but its just an elaborate way to tie a knot. As you tie the knot, the chopsticks and the second napkin will be sucked down to the bowl, where they will become really impact. Tie one more knot to secure it all, and we are ready to go. This oryoki eating style is characterized by lack of waste and mindfulness, two things which we could use a lot more in this world.

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