Monk In The World

To be a monk is to have time to practice for your transformation and healing. And after that to help with the transformation and healing of other people.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Friday, February 26, 2010

Bad Karma?

Here is my offering for tonight. Stewed yellow squash with onions and Jasmine rice from Thailand. Dogen would not have been too happy with my efforts with the rice. What you see there is a cup of uncooked rice. The package said to wash and drain. I washed it with my hands carefully and then put it in a colander to drain. I don't think Dogen had a colander. Anyway, some of the rice slipped through the little holes in the colander, into the sink, down the garbage disposal. The ango group knows what I am talking about here. So I have probably created some bad karma with this meal. Then again, I don't believe in magic!

So in the spirit of Cooking our Lives, I just thought I would share this little meal with everyone in the ango.


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Sunday, February 21, 2010

...buddhadharma, the world just as it is!

Ok, so we are studying Dogen's instructions to the cook (the tenzo). I'm presently readying From the Zen Kitchen to Enlightenment...

A dish is not necessarily superior because you have prepared it with choice ingredients, nor is a soup inferior because you have made it with ordinary greens. When handling and selecting greens, do so wholeheartedly, with a pure mind, and without trying to evaluate their quality, in the same way in which you would prepare a splendid feast. The many rivers which flow into the ocean become the one taste of the ocean; when they flow into the pure ocean of the dharma there are no such distinctions as delicacies or plain food, there is just one taste, and it is the buddhadharma, the world itself as it is. In cultivating the germ of aspiration to live out the Way, as well as practicing the dharma, delicious and ordinary tastes are the same and not two. There is an old saying, "The mouth of a monk is like an oven."Remember this well.

My take on this is that a oven just receives what it is given and cooks it, without any judgement. Walking through this world, we are like an oven. Life is contingent, I believe. We are a walking oven and certain things are given to us born out of these contingencies. Don't have the space here to get into "free will"...anyway, what is given is what we are to cook.

So why do I say all the above? Why did these particular words catch my eyes this morning?

I continue to think about Amy and David, and their three living children.

Is our life just an oven? All we can do is just receive what is given? In some ways, yes. What matters is how we cook what has been given? What matters is what do we do with the food that we have? Can we make something meaningful out of it? Making meaning is not picking and choosing, making meaning is the cooking. Then you just eat what you have placed before you.

But that does not mean you have to like it. Maybe what is important is that you digest it properly so you can be changed by the nutrients that are in it.

May Amy and David, and their three living children be fed well this day.

Deep Bows,

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Amy, I Groan With You And Your Whole Family!!!

I received word yesterday that a dear friend and colleague lost her youngest child (of four) in a automobile accident with a deer. Her husband and all four children were in the car and the deer went through the front window, all the way to the back, killing her eight year old daughter.

Amy, all night long I thought about you, I even dreamed I was at your home in Nashville, sitting with you and David, walking through your home as visitors came to offer their support. Amy, not that I can make a difference, but I wish I could be there to put my arms around you and David and cry with you until...until...until!!! I had to write to you in this way as a way of letting you know I hurt so badly for you.

Shit happens and the world keeps going by, doing what it does without a blink. What a cruel world! It's not just Amy and David, I know that! But for me, today it IS Amy and David and I want to scream out to the world, "STOP WORLD, AMY AND DAVID JUST LOST A PRECIOUS DAUGHTER!!!!"


And to those who might read this and find that they continue to take this precious life we have for granted:

Let me respectfully remind you,
    life and death are of supreme importance.
Time swiftly passes by, 
    and opportunity is lost.
Let us awaken, 
Take heed, 
    do not squander your life.

Deep Bows,


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Parking Spaces and Actualizing the Fundamental Point

Overcome your uncertainties 
And free yourself
From dwelling on sorrow.
If you delight in existence,
You will become a guide
To those who need you,
Revealing the path to many. 
- Sutta Nip

Thanks to Daily Zen for the above quote.

"If you delight in existence, you will become a guide to those who need you, revealing the path to many"

I don't know about my ability to reveal the path to many but I did have an experience of just delighting in existence yesterday. 
I'm here in Nashville , TN, visiting my daughter and son-in-law. Yesterday we all went to buy some cowboy boots in downtown Nashville and then my wife and daughter needed to run by the mall. As  long as I can remember, they have always needed to "run by the mall". Anyway, we drove to the mall and the traffic was ridiculous. After about 15 minutes of looking for a parking space I suggested they just get out of the car and I would catch up with them as soon as I found a parking space. That never happened! 

The whole time they were in the mall, I just drove around leisurely, listening to some jazz. I made a conscious decision to just relax, cruise the parking lot and listen to music. I was delighting in existence.

That conscious decision shifted that whole experience for me, unlike all the others I saw, competing to position themselves to get that elusive parking space.

Was I a guide, revealing to many the path to the empty space? Well, no, but in some way, maybe I was a guide.



Thursday, February 11, 2010


I just wanted to invite anyone who takes a peek here every now and then to go to Dosho Port's website, Wild Fox Zen and see what's going to be cooking soon. If you find yourself hungry for some intimacy, think about committing to play with all of us for the next ango! Only thing you need is your heart mind and some cooking utensils.   Bows ...Alan

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Sunday, February 7, 2010


OK, I'm making some Super Bowl wings here on my faithful Green Egg smoker and grill. By the way, if you don't have one you will probably be spending a long time in purgatory trying to decide why you never made this conversion. Anyway, it's not so much about the game for me as it is being with some guys I truly love. Heck, I won't even stay for the whole game (bedtime is early for me). So what better way to show these guys how much I love them than sharing one of my culinary gifts. I will put another batch of these on around one o'clock. The grand total will be about 120 pieces of chicken, albeit little pieces of chicken.

Does this have anything to do with Practice? Well, let me share this little old story with you.

Monk: What is the essence of your practice?
Basho: Whatever is needed.

Well today's need was some wings off the Green Egg.


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Saturday, February 6, 2010


Finishing up my re-reading of Living Zen, Loving God. Habito uses one of my favorite quotes about this journey. T.S. Eliot:
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all exploring
Will be to arrive where we have started
And know the place for the first time
Habito, discussing the four vows of the Bodhisattva, and addressing the third vow:
States, "The vow to accomplish the peerless, unsurpassable way of enlightenment is simply the vow to realize one's very own True Self. We are not in search of something out there beyond our present reach. We are not on a journey toward some place far off.
It is right before us, here, now..." 
This journey leads us back to ourselves, back to where we started. The difference is we are able to SEE.

The question for me is, "How do I actualize this SEEING?

Maybe by just being conscious of my next breath.