It turns out that my stay coincided with a sort of "day off" here; got to sleep in to almost 7am, no morning service or zazen. Breakfast, like dinner last night, was formal; a whole thing about how you unwrap your bowls, pass and serve the food, and clean and re-wrap. It's curious to me that the food is eaten very quickly. I have heard this is a Rinzai thing, don't know if it's the same in Soto zendos. But if I were designing a eating ritual I'd slow it down to encourage mindfulness.
The chanting is done very quickly also; though I was given a book to follow, I was quickly lost. Okay, though, they seem to be practicing good forbearance on me here.
But it does make me wonder what the hurry is. "Hey, hurry up so we can get back to zazen!", or something? Except that we rush through a meal then have free time until the next scheduled thing. Maybe monks value that free time.
Anyway, it's cool. Zazen last night two sessions of about 30 minutes, with a short rest and stretch in between. Longer than I've sat before (at least, discounting a few extraordinary circumstance of altered states of consciousness).
Today, after lunch (informal, nice discussion - turns out the head monk here, a Russian fellow, used to do Judo and has studied acupuncture, so we had some budo and some healing talk), took a little hike up into the woods. Sat zazen by the stream for a while, watching the water eddy around the rocks.
I've written about the precepts, about the Noble truths, about magick and mysticism, since I've been here, but I haven't much touched on the big one, the thing so many people turn to religion for comfort regarding: death.