Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Day 2 Sunday

I don't feel like writing. Exausted - both mentally and physically. There was a 4 hour sitting this morning, 2 hours after lunch and an hour this evening. Up at 6am and now its 9pm. Meditation is strenuous activity! My back is sore and still aches. I have a headache. I had some fleeting moments of clarity in between the stenuous activity of sitting still...or trying to find that very precise position where my back felt good, my legs or butt didn't fall alsleep or my knees did not throb. A very delicate process.

We also had Oryoki training today. I arrived with the assumption that I would not enjoy this practice. I discovered quite the opposite. There is an elegance and choreography - imagine dancing with your hands as you eat. Suppose your entire meal is as intricately mapped out as Giselle. There is a preciseness and economy of movement I found refreshing. I suppose to our standards that sounds rather glum - but I rather liked not paying attention to other people eating and talking at the same time. I look forward to developing my skill. There is a formality I seem to be attracted to - bowing to the server, or rather bowing to anyone who gives you anything. And there is no "pass the salt" - the choreography plans for such contingencies. In fact there are very few contingincies.

The cleaning of the bowls, I find extremely funny. It crosses all our boundaries of civilitity and ettiquitte. Apart from a spoon and a set of chopsticks, the other tool the Oryoki set possesses is a setsu. In more modern sets, they are rubber scrappers - you know those things you use to efficiently scrape cake batter from the mixing bowl to the cake pan. This is the more modern looking setsu (its between the middle and left bowl). This is what a traditional setsu looks like. The tip is neatly wrapped in gauze. At the end of the meal, you scrape your bowl - its best if everything is consumed of course. You lick the setstu clean and continue scraping. There is a formal procedure of a server pouring a bit of hot water into the middle bowl. There is a process of washing and drying the bowl. The water is poured into the remaining dirty bowl and the clean one is put away (by nesting it in the largest bowl called "the Buddha bowl). The utensils are cleaned and dried (there is a process about doing this too). Anyway. At the end the remaining bowl is full of semi dirty water. Dirty in the sense that it has meal bits in it. There is a collective bow and then the water is drank. Yep. Did I mention the word economy before? Its the only drink you'll get in this meal. Its sort of like a weak soup that is flavored like the meal you just ate. I smiled thinking of the horror our western senses would regard this. Its not as horrible as it sounds. After having oatmeal with maple syrup, the washing water can taste rather delicious.

Tomorrow comes the practice of functional and noble silence. I wonder how I will manage with that. It may sound like an understatement to say I am a chatty sort.

One last thing - all participants are expected to complete an hour of chores in the afternoon (called Rota). This comes after lunch and before the afternoon sitting. Most of my Rota this week is in the garden. I admitted that I should rather be assigned a chore rather than something I will pursue with utter delight!

Note to self: teach kids how to accept a collect call!


Kim said...

Horror is exactly right. That cleaning ritual sounds like something out of Fear Factor! But, the gardening didn't sound too bad!

MC Etcher said...

Oryoki sounds pretty cool, except for the part about drinking the water.

Perhaps that's a good motivator to eat all your food. And eschew sauces...