December 24, 2008

Oryoki: Zen-style mindful dining. [Dathun, Buddhism, Shambhala Mountain Center, Reggie Ray, Karme Choling, video]

The meditation practice of Dining, Zen-style:

I’ve done two Dathuns—month long silent (mostly) meditation retreats in the Buddhist tradition. The first one, I did when I was 16—just out of high school—and it was all I could do not to go crazy from boredom. By the second, I’d grown up a bit, and knew that it’s trying to always get away from boredom, always trying to fill the space that keeps one crazy. At both, we practiced oryoki—Zen-style dining. The portions were small, so I usually ran to the kitchen afterward to eat three more courses (when I was a young punk my feats of eating were prodigious—I ate nine meals, including snacks, a day when I was 17—I ate a dozen doughnuts all at once (try it)…I was a big and getting bigger pig. These days, all growns up, I can eat like a (huge) bird and get away with it. Anyway…oryoki.

I first remember learning in back in, like, ’85 at Shambhala Mountain Center, then known at Rocky Mountain Dharma Center. The idea was to practice mindfulness of the present moment 14/7…whenever we were awake. It’s actually quite fun—and social—you sit in rows and giggle and ogle and wink and nod and eat. You also…ugh…clean your own dishes by getting hot water poured in ’em…and drinking the leftover soupiness.

Here’s an instructional video, via Robin Rieck:

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