Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Seonamsa Temple Stay: Buddha's Breakfast

Following the schedule, 5:40 marked the start of Buddha's Breakfast back at the dining hall. Instead of eating at the low tables as we had the night before, we would be partaking of a more formal ceremony with our bowls on spread on a cloth on the floor. Forming two lines, we quietly waited our turn to pick up a nested set of bowls and some folded cloths, tied neatly with a grey strip. Seated on the heated flooring, we were spaced apart to ensure enough area to eat properly, and also be neatly aligned with those ahead (and/or behind) us.

We then were instructed to untie the strip, then unfold the large square grey cloth, making sure that our "placemat" aligned with those of others in our row. The nested bowls were carefully placed in clockwise order on the cloth, the functions of each being explained. The end person from each row poured some water in the upper right bowl, after which we placed our spoon and chopsticks into  it. The next person placed one spoonful of rice into each person's rice bowl and then came around again, allowing each person to remove or add as desired, but reminded that we should not waste anything. Another came with the soup kettle, allowing the two people seated between the placed kettle to scoop their own soup. Side dishes followed in the same protocol. I saw even more sparse portions than the night before, indicating some rather picky eaters. As instructed, we were told we had to eat all we had in our bowls, down to the last grain of rice. The fourth person in line came and poured hot water in one of our bowls, which we used to wash and wipe the other bowls (a white cloth was provided in our tied bowl kit for this). Because no oil was used in the preparation of the foods, the monk explained that no soap was needed for washing. Each monk would have his (or her) own designated bowl set and was always responsible for keeping them clean. After a final rinse of the bowls and utensils, the water was poured into a large bucket. The buckets would be brought to the head monk for inspection; if any food particles were seen, that row of monks would have to drink the water - or at least that's what we were told. 

No comments: