Experiencing a Formal Zen Meal (Baru Gongyang)

no. 36 and no. 37

Watching this video, you may think this process is peaceful. But for someone new, it can be quite stressful, especially when there are 4o other people involved. It’s all about figuring our strategies. With the silent help of my neighbor — I was assigned bowl no. 37, I assume she was no.36 — it took me about three days to adopt the skills for eating faster and cleaning my bowl on time. A process testing your ability to stay in the moment.

If you don’t have your strategies down, you could be the person everyone is left waiting for. When they say, “Make sure not to take too much food”, it’s because if you do, you could be the last one eating. Although monks and meditators should be pretty cool about waiting, being the last one cleaning your bowl still isn’t a fun feeling.

And that bowl must be clean! Once you quietly pour your bowl cleaning water into the pot, it must be clear. The water goes to the hungry ghosts, and their necks are too thin to accept even the smallest kimchi chilli flake. We don’t want to choke them.

by Timothy Wright (http://timothyssketchpad.blogspot.com)

Minus the murder investigation, while at Musangsa, I often imagined I was in a surreal movie. The formal meal truly added to the surrealism.