TOMATO BLESSING AND RADISH TEACHINGS…

Tomato Blessings and Radish Teachings: Recipes and reflections
by
Edward Espe Brown

P. 4 “When you wash the rice, wash the rice; when you cut the carrots, cut the carrots; when you stir the soup, stir the soup,” Shunryu Suzuki Roshi.

P. 10 The best teacher of …. Careful observation of the obvious.

P. 16 “What it is to be unstained… Being unstained is like meeting a person for the first time and not considering what they look like. Also, it is like not wishing for more color or brightness when viewing flowers or the moon,” Dogen Zenji, Shobogenzo.

P. 74 “If you want to see virtue,” [Suzuki Roshi] said, “you have to have a calm mind.”

“That isn”t what I asked you,” I thought to myself, but I kept quiet. I gave it some time to turn me around. Was I going to spend my time finding fault or seeing virtue? It had never occurred to me that I could spend my time seeing virtue, but my teacher”s mentioning it made it seem obvious.

Later in our conversation he said, “When you are cooking, you”re not just working on food. You”re working on yourself. You”re working on other people.” Well, of course, I thought, that makes sense.

Without really having any idea how to actually do it, I began to try “to see virtue.” Whenever I found fault with someone, I would remind myself to look again, more carefully, more calmly. I began to recognize people”s basic good intention, to sense people”s effort, the effort it took even to stand on-the-spot and be exposed for all the world to see. I would catch glimpses of our shared vulnerability.

P. 121 In a Zen parable this is the person who wakes up with a piece of shit on his nose. Throughout the day everyone he meets “stinks” and everything he does “stinks.” Many years may pass before he realizes the shit is on his own nose, and he must “wash his face.”

P. 157 When I got back to the kitchen, I began acknowledging other people”s abilities, and letting them make decisions of consequence. I started taking regular days off and turning the kitchen over to one of the other members of the crew, each in turn. I felt an unfamiliar tenderness or compassion, since I knew that despite our best efforts, we can be so easily belittled or dismissed.

P. 164 Zen offers a simple dictum for how to care for things, how to respect them: Carry one thing with two hands, rather than two things with one hand.

P. 165 “The uses of cleverness are soon exhausted, while the apparently simple is infinitely interesting.” Chinese proverb.

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