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virtue encompasses two aspects: the relative and the absolute. When you
taste what you put in your mouth, you may notice sweet or sour, earthy
or sunny, and along with these relative characteristics you can sense
something essential, something from beyond. This something is not a thing.
Go ahead and taste it—the virtue inherent in your careful, attentive,
receptive experiencing of the moment. When your awareness is in the dark, and you are opening
your perception, you can also taste your own inherent goodness and the
virtue of others working with you. You may meet sincerity, kindness,
wholeheartedness, vulnerability, grief, anxiety, determination,
stubbornness. And you may meet mind itself: vast and spacious. Awesome!
can shift your effort, shift your attention. From doing it right,
aiming to gain approval, you shift to meeting and working with the
ingredients at hand. Looking to see what is available, you dream up
what to do with the ingredients, while honoring their virtue. Our
ordinary effort is to dream up a picture of how we want things to be,
and endeavor to make it come true. Now,
in the dark, you feel your way along, and your wisdom flashes: a salad,
a soup; the virtue of spinach, apple, and walnut speaks to you. The
body comes alive, because you are doing
something. Yes, it’s good to stop and sit and allow the usual impulses
for motion an opportunity to move inwardly instead of
outwardly—beautiful work there. Yet hands love to be hands. You give
them life by allowing them to find out how to do things—how to wash and cut, stir and knead, ladle and mop. Your consciousness comes out of its nest or den in the head and finds its way into activity. These are the hands that have an eye in the middle of the palm which can see and connect with the object of touch. In this connection is health and healing—you are learning to work with the virtue of things, and receive the blessings of being human.
knows that cooking can be stressful. When your awareness becomes
overwhelmed, stop for a few moments and make a mental (or even written)
checklist of what needs to be done. Revise your list in accordance with
reality: how much time and energy you have, and what is the one thing to do next, so that you can give that one thing your undivided attention. When stressed, stop and check, before proceeding step by step.
Suzuki Roshi mentioned, “When you are in the dark, you don’t know where
you are going, but when you carefully feel your way along, where you
find yourself will be okay.” To your health and happiness, joy and
well-being, in the kitchen and out. Let’s taste the blessings of the
Originally published in the March 2010 issue of the Shambhala Sun.
A sample recipe from Edward Espe Brown.
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mindfulness into all the major aspects of your life.
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