What do I want – instructions to the cook

In “Instructions to the Cook”, Fields and Glassman observe that “Zen masters call a life that is lived fully and completely, with nothing held back, ‘the supreme meal.’ And a person who lives such a life – a person who knows how plan, cook, appreciate, serve and offer the supreme meal of life, is called a Zen cook.” I love cooking, I love Zen and I have spent years using various things to help me take control of my life.

The latest thing I’m up to is 30 day challenges. Although I’m using the time frame a bit loosely. I’ve just come off a juice fast which really was a 10 day challenge. And this post is the beginning of a 40 day challenge – to complete the 10 day Time of your Life, and the 30 Day Personal Power courses; to re-interpret them within a zen context; and to hopefully create some new cooking techniques for Zennists. My fourth 30 day challenge.

I have had a lot to get done today:- write a spray calculator in PhoneGap (don’t ask); Spanish Grammar and Vocab (I’m currently sitting at about 1,800 words of Spanish); Fix a newsletter in a website; Listen to “Time of Your Life” – Day 1; Try and finish an objective-C app for a client (don’t ask); write this blog.

The first and most important paradox is that “Time of Your Life” is focused on getting what you want. Buddhism on the other hand is about removing suffering by eliminating wants. Zen itself is a paradox. While sitting and meditating is an important part of Zen, so is focusing on how you’re living your life. It’s attention to the detail of your life, where you put the umbrella, have you cleaned your bowl, did you completely burned up the self in an activity. “It’s not reading the Tenzo Kyökun that takes a you’ve got!” And yet at the same time, there is an old saying “Spring comes and the grass grows by itself.”

One commonality is that in this first day of Time of your Life, Anthony Robbins says “If you don’t maintain focus’ you will pay a price.” What a great saying, but maybe if we replace focus with mindfulness, there is a spiritual truth. Focus here is about getting what you want, mindfulness is about putting the habits of self aside to be fully present. Another is around the relationship to pursuing pleasure and avoiding pain. In Buddhism through the meditative practice we begin to disidentify from them and use mindfulness and ethics. For Robbins it’s about maintaining focus. The third thing that drives us, he says is other people’s demands. This is not such an issue for me.

“Focus on where you want to go, not on what you fear,” because to borrow from Dune “Fear is the mind killer.”

But the unanswered question is want. We don’t have to focus on what we want, we can focus on what is needed, and that is service, compassion. I’ve been thinking about a new field of service for sometime. I’m going to use this next 40 days to gestate this, maybe it will be still born because it’s not appropriate. Right now, I don’t think so, but let’s see. But you’re going to have to wait to find out what the project is as I’m not ready to tell yet. But here’s the question: how do I help humanity heal the planet?

So this is a 40 day challenge. And part of how I will stay motivated is by keeping you in the loop.

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