Saturday, August 20, 2011

Producing enlightenment

The truth is you're already a cook.
Nobody teaches you anything,
but you can be touched, you can be awakened.
When you put down the book and start asking,
"What have we here?" you come to your senses.
Though recipes abound, for soups and salads,
breads and entrees, for getting enlightened
and perfecting the moment, still
the unique flavor of Reality
appears in each breath, each bite,
each step, unbounded and undirected.
Each thing just as it is,
What do you make of it?

-- Edward Espe Brown
The Complete Tassajara Cookbook

At the "Touch the Earth" party in April, IDP handed out seed packets as parting gifts. My spouse planted and cared for them, growing tomatoes, radishes, carrots, and beets. We have salad.

Last summer he made fruit wines, which are now ready to drink. Pictured is a peach-raspberry, I believe. (There was pear, peach, blueberry, sour cherry, sweet cherry, and mead. All but the mead are quite nice.)

Karma is often described metaphorically as planting a seed, or bija. When you plant tomatoes, you get tomatoes, not peas. When you plant seeds of craving, jealousy, anger in your mind, they blossom into attitudes that color your life. You can walk around wearing a skunk cabbage corsage or carrying a bouquet of roses. Your choice. As Roshi Bernie Glassman said, in his earthy way, "He who walks around with a piece of shit under his nose thinks the whole universe stinks."

Remember too that lotus flowers grow in cesspools. Great beauty can grow out of stinky circumstances.

Seeds require care to grow. So if you attend to those that create ease and harmony, you get more of that. If you don't pay attention to how your mind works, you get weeds.
How does your garden grow?

On the non-metaphorical front, if you're interested in food and cooking as practice, pick up any of Edward Espe Brown's books. He was the chef at Tassajara, a Zen retreat, and an affiliated restaurant in San Francisco. I don't read recipes for fun, but his reflections are down-to-earth yet enlightening.

He's got tons of great recipes. But for tomatoes -- a little olive oil, a little basil, maybe garlic. You don't need to dress up tomatoes.

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