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Lions Roar : May 2018
You’re the Cook In life, you’re given certain ingredients, says EDWARD ESPE BROWN. So when are you going to get cooking? SEE COOKING AS A CHORE or a waste of time, and you will find the task tedious—so tiresome that you will probably not even get into the kitchen! See cooking as an opportunity to develop new skills, to learn as you go, to nourish and feed yourself, family, and friends, and your activity in the kitchen will likely flourish. Shift from your head to your heart and hands, your body and being, and you will tend to discover connection, a home ground for purify- ing your love, moments of meeting the Beloved, and opportunities for further renewal. What are you doing with your life? How will you choose to see things? Often we characterize activities with all-embracing designations. Cooking is tiresome. Meditation is boring. Psy- chedelics are mind-altering. Surfing is a blast. Rock climbing is invigorating. A massage is relaxing. Sex is heavenly. Whatever we characterize with blanket descriptions, Suzuki Roshi reminded us, “It’s not always so.” At least as important as the activity itself is what we implicitly bring with us when we move into action: the way we see the world and how we go about doing things. Yes, we take to some activities and not to others. Yet one most basic point of emphasis in Zen (and Buddhism) is that when we think our happiness depends on manipulating our activities to maximize the pleasurable ones and minimize those we find unpleasant, we will suffer. Because it’s an inherently flawed strategy—it cannot be accomplished. The dishes remain unwashed and continue to stare back at you. As you attempt to increase the positive moments and decrease the negative ones, you put yourself in the passive position of being powerless as experiences inflict themselves upon you. How then will you stand your ground with some strength and equanimity, digesting the various moments of your life? The important shift here is to value the darkness as well as your capacity to develop skills to handle whatever the moment brings and to get to work—or start cook- ing, as it were. In other words, work means not just work in the world. You will also be working on how you see things, on what kind of effort you make, on whether or not you persevere. The activity is not in charge. You are. You have choice. Sure, sometimes you turn to do something else. Yet other times you get to work, you work through it, you see it through, and in the process, you undergo transformation. If cooking is “tiresome,” then while you are thinking that “this cooking is tiresome,” you will probably not notice any of the aspects of cooking that might PHOTOBYISTOCK.COM/PEOPLEIMAGES HOT OFF THE PRESS LION’S ROAR | MAY 2018 75