Take your eating bowls when the Sangha goes to the eating room. We always move and act as a group.
Sit at the table in the same order as in the zendo and at the command start reading the Heart Sutra. During the Heart Sutra we unpack our bowls; the big bowl is to the left, the middle one in the middle and the small one on the right side, all in one straight line. The chopsticks(or spoon) are placed on the right side of the smallest bowl, with the tips sticking out over the table.
The food is passed down from the top of the table to the bottom. When you would like to take some, make Gassho. If you do not want any, bow to the bowl and help pass it down the table. If there are two serving spoons in one bowl, place the bowl between two people so the food can be moved quickly and efficiently.
A plate Saba (offering plate) will be passed down. Please place 3-7 grains of your food onto it, as an offering to the hungry ghosts. The offerings will be given to the birds or fish later.
When eating bring the bowl to your mouth so that you can sit up straight and stay concentrated. Sitting with an erect spine allows you to maintain meditative awareness even when eating.
The food is passed down the table three times all together. When the food is being passed, please stop eating, put your bowls down, and help move the food. Do not take food at other times, but only when the food is being passed. Remember to take one pickle slice and keep it until later for washing the bowls.
At the end of the meal, hot water(or tee) will be passed down the table; pour some into your large bowl, so you can
use it to wash all your bowls after the taku sound. The other bowls can be washed, dried and stacked, but leave some cleaning water in the large bowl. Put the chopsticks away. When the water-offering-container is passed down, pour the some of the water from your bowl into it, as an offering that will be poured upon the trees and flowers and, drink the
rest. Dry the large bowl, stack it with the other bowls and put them all away. At the end of the sutras, a wet cloth will be pushed down the table, so that we can all take responsibility for cleaning up after ourselves.