December 2, 2010

How to Have the Most Awkward Dinner Party, Ever. (15)

Eat Like a Zen Monk.

Don’t celebrate Christmas, but still want some yuletide cheer? Not Jewish but still want to eat awkwardly with friends this holiday season? Check out this AWesome eating practice from the Zen tradition. All the embarrassment, with none of the Western religious baggage!


On a (slightly) more serious note

I first experienced Oryoki-style eating at a Zen sesshin (7-day retreat). Though we were in silence for the entire week, one of my tablemates whispered, “This is how they eat on Vulcan!”  (I giggled.) Oryoki takes the idea of mindful eating to an exquisite level of intricacy: if your mind drifts, you’re guaranteed to make a gaffe, either misplacing your chopstick or spilling your tea. The very intensity of the practice lends weight to eating (something which, since we’re so familiar with it, has probably fallen prey to some contempt).

So visit your local Zen center and give it a try. You might not really want to have a winter solstice party in this style, but I guarantee: you won’t look at chopsticks the same way again.

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Angela Raines  |  Contribution: 2,400