The word oryoki can be translated as “that which contains just enough.”
In a more general sense it refers to the ritual use of nested eating bowls during Zen meditation retreats.
Oryoki meals are simple but precise in detail and flow - from chanting together
to placement of utensils,
and finally to washing and re-wrapping the sets of bowls.
I find it beautiful even though precision and I are not close friends. I had to ask for help innumerable times when I began the practice. But, if I don’t drift off in daydreams, things pretty much happen when and where they should. I can use the correct hand signal to show the server my bowl “contains just enough.”
I like the silence of oryoki. Conversation doesn’t seem so necessary after part of an opening chant: “First, 72 labors brought us this food. We should know how it comes to us.”
A reminder to appreciate my life as well as my interdependence with others.
I look up and see others sharing this life, it’s moment.
I feel connected and aware of my aloneness at the same time. I appreciate what is in front of me. Oryoki. A good practice.
Photographed at Hazy Moon Zen Center, Los Angeles
Photography John Fritzlen