Harmony of the six flavors – Instructions to the cook

“If the tenzo offers a meal without a harmony of the six flavors and the three qualities, it cannot be said that he serves the community.”

“The first course involves spirituality; the second course is composed of study and learning; the third course deals with livelihood; the fourth course is made out of social action and change, the last course consists of relationship and community.”

In “Time of Your LIfe”, Robbins says that in our life we have “categories of continuous improvement” – areas of our life that we need to focus on to keep our life in balance – and a balanced life is one that can go faster. In my life then the personal categories would be family, physical, emotional, spiritual, community (which for me includes social action and change), physical, physical space and language. And because I’m a consultant/contractor my work categories would include financial, networking, etc.

Robbins goes on to talk about each category having roles. These are identities that we have in each area. For example, in community I might have healer and activist, in family I might have father and husband, in spiritual I might have zen buddhist, in physical taijiquanist, runner, energist and cook, and in physical space maybe just designer.

What’s interesting about identities from a zen point of view is that in a way this is just a bunch of sticks. In meditation we put the sticks down. And in life we pick them up. The freedom is that we can put them down and pick them up at will. There is a zen story about a nun who, decided to go up a mountain to make a final push to achieve enlightenment. On the way up she met Maitreya coming down the mountain, carrying a bunch of sticks on his back. She asked him what was enlightenment. He took the sticks off his back and put them on the ground. Then she said “then what?”. He picked the sticks up and continued walking down the mountain.

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