Oryoki at McDonalds

I’m in 7-day sesshin at Hokyoji Zen Community in southwest Minnesota. I have come here for almost 40 years now and have a profound appreciation for the deep core of Zen that can be practiced in this environment.

Today during Oryoki, which is the procedure for a formal meal in the zendo, I thought of a story I heard in the past. In the 70’s, I practiced at Dai Bosatsu Zendo for a few years and heard this story:

Students had picked up Hakuun Yasutani Roshi and were traveling in the car to get to the Monastery. He was hungry and asked to have a meal on the road and pointed to a McDonalds and said, “Let’s eat there!” The students tried to discourage him, pointing to other places they could eat but he still wanted to eat at Mcdonalds. They stopped and pulled into the parking lot. He bought a hamburger, fries and a coke, preceded to sit on the bench outside in the fresh air and do oryoki! He folded the paper wrapper into a lotus placemat, he arranged the food, one, two, three like his bowls in the zendo. He then ate with great care, mindfulness, and joy, with his students.