It doesn’t take long watching Korean dramas before realizing that Koreans like to eat, and they are fond of eating together.
At the Cambridge Zen Center, I got to experience their ritual for eating together as part of the Buddhist practice.
We sat on cushions. Our set of 4 bowls were wrapped in a cloth with a sleeve containing spoon and chopsticks and a cleaning cloth. In unison, we unwrapped the four bowls. Retreatants brought the food to you, and you took one scoop. If there was enough, you could choose a second scoop. However, whatever you took, you must eat it all. Water and tea were also poured in the bowls. Each stage of the process started with the sharp wooden clap of a chukpi. At the end, you’ve cleaned your bowls and rewrapped them, pouring the last bit of clean water into a bowl as offering to Buddha.
It all was like a sort of ballet of dishes. I got a bit befuddled (now, is this the point where the spoon and chopsticks are in the upper right bowl or the lower left bowl?) and made mistakes (like drinking all the water, forgetting to leave some for Buddha).
So this week I choose spoon as the hanja character we will learn.
수저 is a spoon and a pair of chopsticks. That is a lot easier than saying (숟가락과 젓가락) spoon with chopsticks. 구기 is a small ladle.