Lunch Instruction

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===== Awakening the Archive - Tape #7, by Shundo David Haye =====

This is a second short instruction from the same day of sesshin as the Pure Rules talk (; again the beginning of what Suzuki Roshi said has been missed. He is speaking during the lunch meal, conducted in the formal oryoki style of eating that is traditional during sesshin, and which is an important part of monastic practice.

Perhaps he was prompted to speak by observing someone adding food to the largest of the three oryoki bowls, known as the Buddha bowl, which, as Suzuki Roshi points out, is supposed to be kept just for rice (or another grain). Having pointed this out, he takes the fault upon himself for not having explained the rules about this clearly, and then goes on to talk about the forms to follow once you have made a mistake - as in the earlier instruction, he is giving his American students a sense of the kind of traditional training he received at Eiheiji.

There is a subtle teaching in his description of how a monk should atone for any mistake made - by offering incense and bowing in apology in the appropriate place. It is up to the monk to observe the forms, and only an officer with direct responsibility has any authority to say anything to the monk about it. "Of course we make many mistakes," Suzuki Roshi observes, but "if we have no ego, it is not so difficult." Having made a mistake himself (by not making sure the students knew the proper way to eat) he apologizes to everyone present, with no fuss, and a sense of lightness and humor - he has given everyone an example in how to behave. After which, monastic life continues. Even the shortest segments of audio contain jewels like this.


This tape is from the earliest recorded week of sesshin at Sokoji. The audio has been enhanced to allow for greater clarity.

Tape 3 Summer Sesshin July 1965 - Wednesday July 28 1965 Tape 3 Side 1: Wednesday morning 12:00 lunch instruction - transcribed; copied June 30 1973; SR001

Transcription SDH 9/21


"On Saturdays, as I recall, we would do 2-3 sittings (I think 2) with a service and end with a breakfast. I always remember the raw egg that we’d crack over the hot white rice." - Alan Winter (
; #new-audio, #awakening-the-archive


(Some words missed)... he [Buddha] came back and he ate his food, his meal, from this bowl. So we do not put anything but rice in this bowl. But -- strictly speaking it is so. So, in this case, as old monks in Japan do, it is better to -- it was better to break your eggs and put it in small bowl, and put rice from this -- you know, like this. And we should eat from this bowl. [Laughs] I didn't explain it so that is my fault.

In such case, when someone makes mistake, he should bow, you know to Buddha, and to the -- to the man who is responsible for the kitchen. This is my fault -- not only kitchen but also various rooms where the officers and someone who is responsible for the room -- we have to bow three times with incense. It takes time; if it is Eiheiji, it will take [laughs] -- you will spend whole morning [laughter]. All of those -- all the officers (?) does not know what [laughs] -- what he did, if he -- if someone go with bows and incense, there is no time to make a mis -- [laughs] mistake.

So I should bow to Buddha, the kitchen, Reverend Katagiri, and Jean Ross(?), [laughs] strictly speaking. This is how we -- monastic life. Everyone is responsible for his own function, and he is absolute authority. So even the temple master cannot say anything (about) what you do -- if you observe our rules, we cannot say anything. Even though someone makes mistake, we cannot say anything. The man who is responsible for you should say something. No-one else can say anything to -- to anyone, unless he is not responsible for the public (?), for the work.

In this way, the monastic style is carried on, so there is no problem at all. Of course we make many mistake, so when we make mistake we should bow [laughs]. We should apologize for what (some words unclear). If we have no ego, it is not so difficult. So, you know, I apologize to all -- to all of you for lack of consideration. Excuse me. [Clackers struck]