Friday, April 22, 2005



Due to a combination of depression and a relapse of the flu (and depression over the relapse), I have managed to fall five days behind in my blog. Allow me to atempt to make up the gap by answering Mumon's five questions.

1. You are in sesshin, and it is the fourth day. It is lunch time; so oryoki is being practiced. After serving yourself or being served, after your offering, as you mindfully eat, you notice there is a piece of a plastic fork in your food. What do you do?

I can answer this by eliminating the things that I would not do. First, I would not eat the plastic. Although the Buddha begged for his food each day and ate whatever was put in his bowl, I can see no merit in eating a piece of plastic fork.

Second, I would not leave it aside and send it back with my empty bowl. In that case, the tenzo (cook) would see the piece of fork and feel bad, despite all of his/her efforts to prepare the meal. It would not be compassionate to send it back.

It seems to me that the only alternative would be to discretely slip the plastic into a pocket and dispose of it later, say, in the bathroom or back in my room (and keep a sharp eye out in later meals).

1 comment:

Mumon said...

I really appreciate your responses to my questions. I am honored to have your responses.

This incident(minus the 4th day situation- it was a weekend sesshin), BTW, actually happened to me at a Zen Center in NYC; who, because of the large number and attendees and the diminuitive kitchen, had to order out.

I did exactly what you did; there was simply no other way to "leave no trace." But it was one of those "Look at the genjokoan!" moments.