A Pure and Gentle Heart.

It might have been the young women in black charging down the isles with headsets on asking me, “can I find something for you”, “do you need help”? Or it could have been because it was the end of the day and it was getting dark outside. Or simply that there was just too much choice and I didn’t actually need any of the books. What ever it was I left Chapters book store this evening empty handed, again!

There is a line from a scripture which goes something like, The True Way is easy for those who do not pick and choose. Of course we all have to make choices all the time. This line is pointing out the mind of discrimination, a mind set in the opposites. So when I can discern wisely what it is ‘good’ to buy with my gift card I’ll return.

We had a good day on Sunday with quite a few people coming for the Buddha’s Enlightenment Ceremony in the morning. Afterwards a number of us went to a vegetarian restaurant run by a devout Indonesian Buddhist. Thankfully I’d been there before and so I just ordered what I’d had last time. Menu’s are particularly difficult as monastic training in Zen is very strongly geared towards exercising non discrimination around food.

Zen Master Dogen wrote rules to regulate every aspect of the trainees life in the monastery. They are called the “Eihei-shingi”. The Fushuku-hampo (Meal-Time Regulations), being one of the rules, starts with this quote from the Vimalakirti Scripture (written by a lay-man by the way).

“When one is identified with the food one eats one is identified with the whole universe; when we are one with the whole universe we are one with the food we eat.”

The first time I went to the above restaurant the owner asked me, just as we were leaving, if I’d do a Dharma talk at the restaurant. I said “I’ll think about it”! Returning this time I kinda hoped he would not ask again since talking in public is not something I am naturally drawn towards. As it turned out he didn’t ask; I offered! The generosity emanating from the people there just caused me to set caution aside and be generous back. If something comes of this I am sure I’ll be able to think of something to speak about. The Tenzo-kyokun (Instructions to the Chief Cook) for example is all about the attitude of mind while cooking; cooking with a pure and gentle heart. That kind of ‘heart’ can go anywhere.

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