A rough translation of the term Ōryōki could be „a vessel that contains just about enough“. It refers to the traditional and highly ritualised way of eating one’s meals in a monastery or during a retreat/sesshin using multiple bowls, chopsticks and a spoon. Every step of the process has its own particular form which one aims to express beautifully during a meal.
If truth be told, I hated this practise for years after my having received instructions for the first time. Nowadays, I really love it.
When combined with the liturgical chants, Ōryōki becomes a communal dance that fuses the physical and spiritual aspects of one’s practise (which are never apart to begin with).
It is also a great equaliser since you are bound to see even old masters drop a spoon once in a while. Beginner’s mind and pure stress make for avery potent combination.
Below you can find some very valuable Ōryōki instructions courtesy of my good friend Rev. Myōzan.
Please remember, there are a number of differen Ōryōki styles, so whenever you attend a sesshin or eat in a monastery, please humbly ask for yet another Ōryōki introduction if possible.