We are now able to set out
the Tathagata's oryoki.
May we, together with all living beings,
discern the emptiness of the three wheels.
nyorai o ryōki 如來應量器
gakon toku futen 我今得敷展
gangu is-sai shu 願共一切衆
to san rin ku jaku 等三輪空寂
The oryoki (ōryōki 應量器) used by Soto monks is the largest of a set of four lacquered wooden bowls that nest inside each other and are wrapped in a cloth when not in use. For formal meals in a monastery, each monk/nun unwraps his/her own bowls and arranges them in a row in front of themself. Because the bowls are emblematic of Buddhist monk-hood, they are called the oryoki of the Tathagata (nyorai 如來), meaning the Buddha Shakamuni. Originally, Buddhist monks carried a single bowl and made the rounds of lay households to solicit one meal a day, which was to be taken before noon. Later, monasteries were permitted to store food donated by patrons, cook it in a central kitchen, and serve it in a communal dining hall where the monks would assemble to eat. Even in that setting, however, the monks had to bring their own begging bowls and utensils, and they were enjoined to remember that the food came to them as alms. The "three wheels" (sanrin 三輪) or aspects of giving mentioned here are: (1) the giver, (2) the recipient, and (3) the gift, or (in a variant formula) the act of giving. In Mahayana sutras that explain the "six perfections" (roku haramitsu 六波羅蜜) or practices of the bodhisattva, the first is the perfection of giving (danbaramitsu 檀波羅蜜), which is attained when one can give a gift without clinging to the idea of a giver, recipient, and gift: that is what is meant by "discerning (tō 等) the emptiness (kūjaku 空寂) of the three wheels." ☞ "oryoki," "three wheels,", "perfection of giving."