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Lions Roar : May 2019
vegetables to others but use your own hands, your own eyes, your own sincerity.” As all Zen teachers agree, Dogen’s clas- sic text Instructions for the Cook is about more than making meals: it’s a set of instructions for how to live. But I think I need to start small. I decide to see what happens if I bring just a taste of Dogen’s teachings into my modern galley kitchen. The cleaning side of kitchen work is not a major focus in Instructions for the Cook, but unless it is a major focus for me, I won’t have any space for cooking. The compost has to be dumped. The tabletop is strewn with cracker crumbs and the dried, dark liquid of turtle beans. And the counters are piled with dirty dishes—pots, pans, a jumble of cutlery, a rainbow of sippy cups. Where do I even begin? ACCORDING TO DOGEN, the thir- teenth-century Buddhist master who founded the Soto Zen school in Japan, the position of tenzo, or monastery cook, is only suitable for someone who’s highly realized. My condo is no monastery, so hopefully that means only a little bit of realization is required for me to do the family cooking. A little is all I have. With two children under three and a full-time job, another thing I have little of is time and energy. As a result, my dinner solution is frequently to order pizza or Chinese food. Dogen would not approve. He was very clear: “Do not just leave washing the rice or preparing the THIS DHARMA LIFE Monks Have It Easy Sure, appreciating each grain of rice is doable when you’re in a monastery kitchen. ANDREA MILLER tests out Dogen’s Instructions for the Cook in a kitchen ruled by toddlers and exhaustion. According to Dogen, “Put whatever goes to a high place in a high place and whatever goes to a low place in a low place so that, high and low, everything settles in the place appropriate for it.” This makes cleaning sound easy. “To place” is not the verb of dirty work. Try “to scrub,” or “to scour”—that’s my real- ity. Frankly, I am suffering from deep kitchen ennui, and it’s been going on for months. Even the thought of making a simple salad makes me feel exhausted, let alone mopping the kitchen floor. I can almost hear Dogen say, “Get over it already.” What he actually says is, “Day and night, the work for preparing the meals must be done without wasting a moment. If you do this and everything that you do whole-heartedly, this nourishes the seeds of awakening and brings ease and joy.” MEGUMIYOSHIDA ANDREA MILLER is deputy editor of Lion’s Roar and author of the children’s book The Day the Buddha Woke Up. LION’S ROAR | MAY 2019 19