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Lions Roar : January 2015
but rather to evacuate internationals. He followed orders. For two decades, this officer suffered such tremendous guilt and pain that he never told anyone what happened. Finally, at the Rwanda retreat, he shared his story and in the sharing he felt some peace. Later, he returned home and revealed to his wife this burden he’d carried alone for so long. His whole life changed for the better. Over the years, says Glassman, many people have found healing at bearing witness retreats. He thinks back to one retreat at Auschwitz. There was a German woman whose grandfather had run a concentration camp. For sixteen years, she’d thought about attending a retreat but didn’t because she was afraid of meeting Jews and Poles. She was afraid of her guilt. Another person was Polish and he’d been thinking about going on a retreat for ten years, but didn’t because he was afraid of meeting Germans. He was afraid of his anger. After four days on retreat together, these two were hugging. “The Chinese character that’s translated as compassion consists of two radicals. One is compassion as we normally think of it, and the other is removal of fear. That,” says Glass- man, “is how I practice compassion. I try to remove fear.” The Supreme Meal By roshi Bernie GlassMan & ricK fields durinG the thirteenth century, Dogen, the founder of the largest Zen Buddhist school in Japan, wrote a famous manual called “Instructions to the Cook.” In this book, he recounted how he had taken the perilous sea voyage to China to find a true master. When he finally reached his destination, having survived typhoons and pirates, he was forced to wait aboard his ship while the Chi- nese officials examined his papers. One day, an elderly Chinese monk came to the ship. He was the tenzo, or head cook, of his monastery, he told Dogen, and because the next day was a holiday, the first day of spring, he wanted to offer the monks something special. He had walked twelve miles to see if he could buy some of the renowned shiitake mushrooms Dogen had brought from Japan to add to the noodle soup he was planning to serve the next morning. Dogen was very impressed with this monk, and he asked him to stay for dinner and spend the night. But the monk insisted he had to return to the monastery immediately. “But surely,” said Dogen, “there are other monks who could pre- pare the meal in your absence.” “I have been put in charge of this work,” replied the monk. “How can I leave it to others?” “But why does a venerable elder such as yourself waste time doing the hard work of a head cook?” Dogen persisted. “Why don’t you spend your time practicing meditation or studying the words of the masters?” The Zen cook burst out laughing, as if Dogen had said some- thing very funny. “My dear foreign friend,” he said, “it’s clear you do not yet understand what Zen practice is all about, When you get the chance, please come and visit me at my monastery so we can discuss these matters more fully.” And with that, he gathered up his mushrooms and began the long journey back to his monastery. Dogen did eventually visit and study with the Zen cook in his mon- astery, as well as with many other masters. When he finally returned to Japan, Dogen became a celebrated Zen master. But he never forgot the lessons he learned from the Zen cook in China. It was the Zen cook’s duty, Dogen wrote, to make the best and most sumptuous meal pos- sible out of whatever ingredients were available—even if he had only rice and water. The Zen cook used what he had rather than complain- ing or making excuses about what he didn’t have. On one level, Dogen’s “Instructions to the Cook” is about the proper way to prepare and serve meals for the monks. But on another level it is about the supreme meal—our own life—which is both the greatest gift we can receive and the greatest offering we can make. ♦ From Instructions to the Cook, by Bernie Glassman and Rick Fields (Shambhala Publications). PHOTOBYALEKSANDRAKWIATKOWSKA Bernie Glassman laying flowers at the mass grave at Kigali Genocide Memorial Center in Rwanda. SHAMBHALA SUN jANUAry 2015 57