Can cooking be Dharma?
A beautiful mountain of rice from Alex for lunch
“Handle even a single leaf of a green in such a way that it manifests the body of the Buddha. This in turn allows the Buddha to manifest through the leaf. This is a power which you cannot grasp with your rational mind. It operates freely, according to the situation, in a most natural way.” Dōgen, How to Cook Your Life: From the Zen Kitchen to Enlightenment
Looking back over the past few months at the Centre, we do seem to spend a lot of time cooking. Special meals for teachers (including a week of amazing food with the Tashi Lhunpo monks), daily lunch for volunteers and residents, baking for the tearoom, making dhal and soup for our weekend visitors as well as for ourselves and each other when we meet in the kitchen of an evening. Emaho!
Feeding the fam!
Cooking gives so much happiness. The cook and the consumers, when joyful, transcend the rational mind and fully inhabit the moment. A mandala offering of sorts. At least, that’s how I feel when cooking for and with, the very special people at the Centre. It makes sense, then, that cooking joyfully for everyone becomes a practice. When teachers and friends enjoy the dishes, I believe it brings tremendous merit, and in turn becomes the greatest purification through overcoming negative karmas and quickening the ways to enlightenment. Emaho!
Craig making an epic vegan lemon drizzle cake
Cooking has had its comedic moments, too! I made a few batches of chocolate cake and the famous banana cake for the Tearoom. The chocolate cake was fine, but I did not get a handle on the banana cake recipe. The flax eggs and quantity of banana’s went astray in my charge, and the first batch has been repurposed as door stops (snort!). The second batch tasted delicious, but still too many bananas mashed too finely so it remained a bit door-stoppy! I felt sad and disappointed, and my ego was a bit bruised. Until I saw the carrot cake. Our wonderful baker had forgotten two essential ingredients and when sliced it fell apart on the counter during one of our busiest weekends!!! Soooooo, it was repurposed with some custard into a crumble. Then, the beautiful pot of vegan custard which I made so mindfully with guidance from our resident professional chef, was burned upon reheating. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!
Banana loafs pre-doorstop mode
On Sunday at the lunch table we laughed, teased each others efforts, and affirmed the joys of cooking for each other, and you. Sitting together each day for lunch is a kindness to ourselves, creating space for love and compassion to arise. It is a deliberate and gracious space. Sitting together magically allows the happiness to emerge. And as we share a meal it somehow gives permission for our collective best wishes to expand as wide and as vast as the visualisations we practice in our efforts to train our ever wanderings minds. Emaho!
You know the relative to be a lie, yet still you practise the two accumulations. You realise that in the absolute there is nothing to be meditated on, yet still you practise meditation. You see relative and absolute as one, yet still you diligently practise. Peerless Teacher, at your feet I bow.
From Words of My Perfect Teacher: Chapter Four, pge 283
A weekly vegetable bowl for Lama-La, thank you Alex!
With giant mugs of love and great big bowls of courage,