The Form of the Dharma that Appears in the Etiquette of Oryoki

Since a principle of the Buddhadharma says that all phenomena are without self and that all living beings which exist within this phenomenal world are also without self, then by definition human beings and their activities are without self. The daily activity of “eating” as well, which is repeated endlessly through the life of a human being, is a manifestation of this truth of “no self.” On one level, we can see that we are given the opportunity to embody the place of “food” which stands face-to-face with the Dharma when we sit zazen. For us who live as monks, this is our good fortune, so we must not neglect this opportunity nor be careless with it. The “Dharma” and “food” are one true form and cannot be handled in an ordinary confrontational or comparative way. Whenever we spread out the oryoki bowls, we must think deeply about Dogen Zenji’s words and thought in “The Dharma for Taking Food”, and we must actually feel them and meet the Way through them: “Let the Dharma be the same as food and let food be the same as the Dharma” and “the Dharma is food, food is the Dharma.” It is a wonderful that Dogen Zenji’s intention for practicing with the etiquette for eating is now being practiced throughout the world. For beginners, this way of eating may seem at first to be bothersome. However, as you come to understand that each movement and activity is the Dharma as well as a new existence, you will see that this activity of monks, which everyone can use and apply to their lives, is itself nothing other than the manifestation of the no-self of the Dharma and the no-self of human beings. At that time, each of you will deeply realize that this writing about oryoki is not simply about ceremony and etiquette.



Settig Out Bowls
Great assembly of monks gassho, chant Verse upon Hearing the Meal Signal, and Verse for Setting Out Bowls: Verse upon Hearing the Meal Signal Buddha was born in Kapilavastu, enlightened in Magadha, taught in Varanasi, entered nirvana in Kushinagara. bus-sho kabira 仏生迦毘羅 • jo do makada 成道摩掲陀 • sep-po harana 説法波羅奈 • nyu metsu kuchira 入滅拘絺羅 Verse for Setting Out Bowls Now we set out Buddha’s bowls; may we, with all living beings, realize the emptiness of the three wheels: giver, receiver, and gift. • • • • nyorai o ryōki 如来応量器 gakon toku futen 我今得敷展 gangu is-sai shu 願共一切衆 to san rin ku jaku 等三輪空寂

Monks of great assembly gassho and lower heads and, using both hands, undo covering cloth in which oryoki is wrapped.

First, take out bowl wiping cloth (a dishcloth; a cloth about 36 centimeters—14 inches—square, with edges that are rolled over and stitched), fold it in half horizontally, then in thirds vertically; lay it on top of utensil bag (chopsticks bag) and set bag down horizontally in front of knees.



Next, unfold wiping cloth (apron cloth) and cover knees.


Then open covering cloth, letting farthest corner of it hang over platform edge; other three corners should be tucked under slightly.


Next, using both hands, open placemat (underlay for bowls). Turn right hand palm-down and hold near edge of placemat in such a way as to cover oryoki; with left hand, raise bowls above placemat. Then lay placemat on covering cloth and immediately set oryoki down on left side of mat.


Next, using both thumbs, remove and arrange nested bowls on placemat, beginning with smallest and proceeding in order. (Usual manner is to remove fourth nested bowl and third nested bowl together, setting them on right side of placemat; then remove second nested bowl and set it on top of them; next take head bowl, i.e. first nested bowl, and set it in center.)


Next, pick up utensil bag and take out spoon and chopsticks. To do this, first take bag and push spoon and chopsticks out slightly; then fold bag in thirds toward outside and hold it with left hand while right hand removes chopsticks, followed by spoon (when removing utensils take chopsticks first, when putting them away insert spoon first); set utensils down horizontally behind number one bowl (in front of knees), handle pointing left, spoon face up. (After meal, utensils are set down handle pointing right, spoon face down; this signifies “upwards, seeking enlightenment” at the beginning, and “downwards, saving all living beings” at the end.)


Next, place bowl swab perpendicularly between number one bowl and number two bowl, with handle of swab facing outward. Next, with utensils bag still folded in thirds, put it under bowl wiping cloth (dishcloth) and set them down together, horizontally, on near side of place mat. With this, setting out bowls is done.

Ten Buddha Names
Next, rector (Ino) strikes block with mallet once and intones: “In the midst of the three treasures which verify our understanding, entrusting ourselves to the Sangha, we recall:” • nyan ni san po ansu inshi 仰惟三宝咸賜印知 • nyan pin son shu nyan 仰憑尊衆念 He/she strikes block with mallet once again (this is called “mallet of verse of praise”). Great assembly of monks gassho and recite Ten Buddha Names in unison: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Vairochana Buddha, pure Dharmakaya; Lochana Buddha, complete Sambhogakaya; Shakyamuni Buddha, myriad Nirmanakaya; Maitreya Buddha, of future birth; All Buddhas throughout space and time; Lotus of the Wondrous Dharma, Mahayana sutra. Manjushri Bodhisattva, great wisdom; Samantabhadra Bodhisattva, great activity; Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva, great compassion; All honored ones, Bodhisattvas, Mahasattvas; Wisdom beyond wisdom, Maha Prajna Paramita. shin jin pashin birū sha no fu 清浄法身毘盧舍那仏 en mon ho shin rushā no fu 円満報身盧遮那仏 sen pai kashin shikyā mu ni fu 千百億化身釈迦牟尼仏 to rai asan mirū son bu 当来下生弥勒尊仏 ji ho san shi ishī shi fu 十方三世一切諸仏 dai jin myo harin ga kin 大乗妙法蓮華経 dai shin bun jusu ri bu sa 大聖文殊師利菩薩 dai jin fuen bu sa 大乗普賢菩薩 daihi kan shiin bu sa 大悲観世音菩薩 shi son bu sa mo ko sa 諸尊菩薩摩訶薩 mo ko ho ja ho ro mi 摩訶般若波羅蜜


Food OfferingVerse
When chanting of Ten Buddha Names is finished, strike block with mallet once (“mallet of prayer”) and chant Verses of Food Offering. (During period of retreat, head seat (Shuso) chants it; in event that head seat does not attend meal, secretary (Shoki) chants in his/her place. Between retreats, rector chants it; in event that rector does not attend meal, rector’s assistant chants in his/her place.) At gruel time (breakfast) chant: This morning meal of ten benefits nourishes us in our practice. Its rewards are boundless filling us with ease and joy. • • • • shu yu jiri 粥有十利 nyoi an jin 饒益行人 kohō buhen 果報無辺 kyu kin jo ra 究寛常楽

At main meal time (midday meal) chant: The three virtues and six tastes of this meal are offered to Buddha and Sangha. May all sentient beings in the universe be equally nourished. • • • • sante rumi 三徳六味 shifu gisun 施仏及僧 hakai ujin 法界有情 fuzun kyun nyo 普同供養


Procedure for Receiving Food
Receiving food is never something that monks of assembly do on their own; their bowls must be filled by servers. When server comes before one’s sitting place, gassho, take main bowl in both hands (at main meal time hold spoon in right hand), hold it at an angle near the platform edge and receive food (bowl is held out diagonally in front of one’s body; bowl itself is kept level). When one has received an appropriate amount, interrupt serving with one’s right hand, arrange food in bowl with one’s spoon, and set bowl down on bowl stand. In case of soup, gassho and give first nested bowl over to server with right hand to have it filled; while server is filling it, wait respectfully in gassho. In case of pickles, lift second nested bowl in both hands to receive them. In case of bowl being filled with side dishes, simply gassho and receive them. Having received food, set down bowl or vessel and again gassho. All receiving of food is preceded and followed by gassho.



Verse of Five Contemplations
Next, monks of great assembly salute food (lower head with folded hands), fold hands in dharma realm concentration mudra (left hand on bottom, right hand on top, with thumb tips touching to form a circle), and chant Verse of Five Contemplations. (Or, upon hearing mallet for completion of serving food, immediately gassho, and then while saluting food chant Verse of Five Contemplations): We reflect on the effort that brought us this food and consider how it comes to us. We reflect on our virtue and practice, and whether we are worthy of this offering. We regard it as essential to free ourselves of excesses such as greed. We regard this food as good medicine to sustain our life. For the sake of enlightenment, we now receive this food. hitotsu ni wa, kō no tashō wo hakari, kano raisho wo hakaru futatsu ni wa, onore ga tokugyō no zenketsu wo hakatte, ku ni ōzu mitsu ni wa, shin wo fusegi, toga wo hanaruru koto wa tontō wo shū to su yotsu ni wa, masa ni ryōyaku wo koto to suru wa gyōko wo ryōzen ga tame nari itsutsu ni wa, jōdō no tame no yue ni, ima kono jiki wo uku

Verse of Food for Spirits
Next, if it is main meal time, put out food offering for spirits (this is called “distribution for spirits”). Procedure for this is as follows. First bow in gassho, then using index finger and thumb of right hand pick up approximately seven grains of rice, place on handle of bowl swab, and chant Verse of Food for Spirits:

Oh spirits, we now give you an offering; this food is for all of you in the ten directions.


• • • •

jiten kijinshu 汝等鬼神衆 gokin suji kyu 我今施汝供 suji hen jihō 此食偏十方 ishi kijin kyu 一切鬼神共

(Food for spirits should positively not exceed approximately seven grains of rice. In the case of glutinous rice cakes, put out a piece about the size of half a penny; or in the case of noodles, a piece about 3 cm—1 inch—long. Rice gruel [served at morning meal] is not offered to spirits. Because there is no offering for spirits at gruel time, Verse of Rice for Spirits is not chanted, and immediately following Verse of Five Contemplations assembly raises bowls and chants, “The upper portion is for the three treasures... etc.”)


Bowl RaisingVerse
Next, using both hands raise main bowl and chant the following verse: First, this is for the Three Treasures; next, for the four benefactors, finally, for the beings in the six realms. May all be equally nourished. The first portion is to end all evil; the second is to cultivate all good, the third is to free all beings. May everyone realize the Buddha Way. • • • • • • • • jo bun san bo 上分三宝 chu bun shion 中分四恩 gekyū roku do 下及六道 kai do kuyō 皆同供養 ik-ku idan is-sai aku 一口為断一切悪 niku ishu is-sai zen 二口為修一切善 sanku ido shoshu jo 三口為度諸衆生 kaigu jo butsu do 皆共成仏道

Prior to chanting this verse, take chopsticks in right hand and place them on top of first nested bowl (soup) with tips facing toward oneself.


When Bowl Raising Verse is finished, without putting down main bowl, lower head and then immediately begin to eat. For eating, spoon is used for rice gruel; for all other food, chopsticks are used; when eating from any vessel whatsoever, the proper procedure is to hold it in the other hand.

Servers prepare second serving (second helpings). Busboys enter hall carrying wiping cloths, pick up spilled food, wipe off any soiled places on platform edge, leave hall. When second serving is finished, they do the same. Meal-announcing assistant, upon observing that monks of great assembly have finished eating, calls out “Second serving.” Servers serve food a second time. At main meal time, when meal-announcing assistant sees that servers have exited hall, he/she calls out “Collecting food offering for spirits.” Servers gather up rice offering for spirits. (When servers come, press down on swab with finger, making it easier for them to remove rice grains.)


When meal-announcing assistant sees that great assembly has finished eating and set down spoons and chopsticks, at breakfast he/she calls out, “Pure water.” If it is main meal time, he/she first calls out “fragrant decoction” (tea) then “pure water” (hot water). Servers distribute fragrant decoction and pure water. (When tea has been consumed, and bowls washed with pure water, dispose of rinse water. When there is soft rice gruel, such as rice decoction, receive pure water in oryoki, then pour everything into first nested bowl and eat it. Receive tea in oryoki, then pour it into first nested bowl and drink it.)

Bowl Washing
Procedure for washing bowls is as follows. First, taking care not to let sleeves of one’s robe touch bowls, receive water in main bowl (nowadays this is hot water). To receive it, hold main bowl in both hands, with bowl swab in right hand. Having received it, set bowl on bowl stand and use a clockwise motion of the swab to wash the inside.


Next, pour water into first nested bowl. Holding swab in right hand, rotate main bowl with left hand in such a way that swab thoroughly cleans it, outside and inside. Put swab down on first nested bowl and, still holding main bowl in left hand, take bowl wiping cloth (dishcloth) in right hand and cover main bowl with it. Then hold main bowl in both hands and, revolving it clockwise, wipe and dry it with cloth. Gently squeeze bowl wiping cloth and place it briefly in main bowl, so that nothing but one corner of it sticks out. Next, place main bowl on bowl stand. Wash spoon and chopsticks in first nested bowl, using swab, and wipe them with bowl wiping cloth without removing it from oryoki. When finished, put them away in utensil bag and lay it down horizontally behind first nested bowl (between first nested bowl and oneself). (It is not allowed to wash nested bowls, spoon, or chopsticks inside main bowl.) Next, wash first nested bowl in second nested bowl. First, lift swab and first nested bowl together in left hand. With right hand, take second nested bowl and move it to the place where first nested bowl had been sitting. Then pour water into second nested bowl. Wash first nested bowl, dry it, place it inside main bowl, and put bowl wiping cloth inside it. Next, wash third nested bowl (and if it was used, fourth nested bowl). Having wiped third and fourth nested bowls, stack them and set them down on right side of placemat and put bowl wiping cloth back into first nested bowl. Next, wash swab, wipe it on one corner of bowl wiping cloth inside number one bowl, place it inside utensil bag, and wait for disposal of rinse water. Until the bowl water is disposed of, it is not permitted to do such things as fold one’s wiping cloth; do not throw away excess bowl water beneath the platform.


Collection of Rinse Water
When meal-announcing assistant sees that great assembly has finished bowl washing, he/she calls out “Rinse Water.” Servers proffer rinse water vessels. Monks of great assembly gassho, intone Verse of Rinse Water:

The water with which we wash our bowls tastes like ambrosia. We offer it to the many spirits, may they be satisfied. Om makura sai so wa ka. • • • • • gashi sen pas-sui 我此洗鉢水 nyoten kan romi 如天甘露味 seyo kijinshu 施與鬼神衆 shitsu ryo toku bo man 悉令得飽満 On makura sai sowaka 唵摩休羅細娑婆訶

Having done this, pour bowl water into rinse water vessel. When pouring rinse water, put lip of one’s bowl against inside of receiving vessel and pour in such a way as not to make any splashing noise. Servers make mutual bows with hands clasped behind Sacred Monk’s altar, form a single line and depart hall.


Putting Away Bowls
When collection of rinse water is finished, wipe nested bowl used for it, and, with bowl wiping cloth squeezed in right hand, stack it together with nested bowl already inside oryoki. Also stack remaining third and fourth nested bowls. Steadying bowls (oryoki) with left hand, wipe top of placemat. Next, turning over left hand, lift up bowls (oryoki). Turn right hand palm down, still squeezing bowl wiping cloth, grasp edge of placemat nearest to body, and place it on top of bowls (oryoki). Set bowls (oryoki) down in middle of covering cloth and, using both hands, fold up placemat and lay it on top of bowls. Next, grasping corner of covering cloth nearest one’s body, wrap it over bowls (oryoki), then take corner of covering cloth that hangs over platform edge, lift it toward one’s body and wrap it too over bowls. Fold up wiping cloth (fold twice horizontally, three times vertically), place it on top of half wrapped bowls, and put utensil bag and water board on top of wiping cloth. Next, stretch out bowl wiping cloth to get rid of wrinkles, and lay it on top, covering those. Then, using both hands, lift right and left corners of covering cloth over bowls (oryoki) and tie them together in the middle. Having knotted those two ends together, both should hang down to the right (this is so one can immediately tell which is left and right on bowls—oryoki, and also to make them easy to untie). When bowls (oryoki) have been wrapped up, gassho and sit silently. Servers, upon seeing that assembly has finished putting away bowls, take wiping cloths and wipe platform edge.


Verse of Purity While Abiding in the World
When putting away bowls is finished, Sacred Monk’s acolyte rises from seat and gets off platform, drapes mallet and block covering cloth over left arm, enters sangha hall, advances before Sacred Monk, bows in gassho, proceeds to side of mallet and block, faces mallet and bows in gassho, strikes block with mallet (mallet for exiting hall) once, covers mallet and block with cloth, bows in gassho again, exits hall, and returns to place. Two abbot’s quarters assistants, following Sacred Monk’s acolyte, rise from seats, enter from south side of front door, go before abbot, stand together and bow in gassho. One takes abbot’s bowls (oryoki); the other removes table. They bow in gassho again, exit hall, and wait for abbot to come out. Rector, upon hearing mallet strike block, intones Verse of Purity While Abiding in the World in a drawn-out voice: Abiding in this ephemeral world like a lotus in muddy water, The mind is pure and goes beyond, thus we bow to Buddha. • • • • shishi kai jiki kun 処世界如虚空 jiren kafu jashī 如蓮花不著水 shin shin jin cho ihi 心清浄超於彼 kishu rinbu jo son 稽首礼無上尊

Monks of great assembly gassho and listen. When rector comes to phrase, “we bow,” all together lower heads. When verse is finished, monks of great assembly place bowls (oryoki) to left side of sitting place, get down from platform to see off abbot. Abbot stands up from chair, bows together with great assembly, bows in gassho in front of Sacred Monk, and exits hall (after morning gruel, if abbot has business to attend to and will not give morning convocation dharma instruction, when Verse of Purity While Abiding in the World is finished, bell for release from convocation is rung three times). Following this, staffs of various quarters exit hall. Members of sangha hall assembly mount platforms, raise bowls (oryoki) in both hands, face name plaques and lower heads, hang bowls on hooks above platform boxes (if sangha hall has no such hooks, place bowls on top of platform box), and bow in gassho. (When formal meals are held in temples that have no sangha halls, it is permissible to use main hall as an imaginary sangha hall, lining up meal tables four together and practicing in accordance with procedure for taking meals.)


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