Friday, July 24, 2009

Cooking,carrots, and our own true heart

"One concept in cooking is 'How do I make it taste the way its supposed to?' "

"This doesn’t have to do with tasting anything. Its making something be the way its supposed to. And its also possible you know to ask the carrot how it likes to be or what its like to be a carrot. And what would help the carrot express its carrot-ness more fully today. This is different than making the carrot taste the way its supposed to. Do you understand? A friend of mine went to the Culinary Institute of America, the other CIA, in Hyde Park, New York, And he said he had a teacher who would walk around and say, 'Chef, what are you doing?' And you might say, 'I’m making carrot soup'. And then the teacher would say, ' And what should carrot soup taste like?' And then you were supposed to answer 'Carrots'. I don’t know about you but I’ve definitely had carrot soup that I can’t tell... is it carrot, is it yam, is it winter squash? Because it has carrots and it has orange juice and it has chilies and it has green chilies and it has ginger and it has apples and it has basil, maybe some coriander. Tastes magnificent but you don’t know what it is.

So most of us are busy projecting our selves in this way. Aren’t I magnificent? You don’t know who I am do you? (laughs) And then we wonder 'why do I have so much trouble connecting?' (laughs)......

Is it all right for you to be you? Can you study how to bring out the best in who you are? Can you help yourself realize who you are, just as you could help a carrot express itself? This is to say, you know, how do you help your heart express your heart? It takes a certain amount of courage and, initially, a certain amount of awkwardness. We’re not used to expressing our heart and we’re busy presenting ourselves as a perfected being.

So this basic activity of tasting a carrot, to actually taste a carrot, and then you can taste a carrot when you cook it in a little water, in oil, in butter, if you roast it in the oven and you can taste what happens to carrot just in the different ways its cooked. And carrot with oil and without oil, and with you know there's only just five flavors, there's salt and there's soy sauce, there's vinegar and lemon juice, there's sugar and honey, there's pungent elements, there's garlic and ginger and you could study what helps carrot be carrot and manifest the carrot-ness of carrots.

And you can study what helps you manifest the heart of you. What encourages you to do that? How will you manage that? This is a different practice than studying how to be successful or good or grown up or calm and quiet and still."

-- transcribed from a recorded talk at a day long sitting with Edward Espe Brown on August 9, 2008 at Green Gulch

any errors in transcription are mine.

Monday, July 13, 2009


Mother-of-us-all prays to free us
from our image of perfection
to which so much suffering clings.

When in the shadowy mind
we imagine ourselves imperfectly,
praying to be freed from gravity
by enlightenment, she refines our prayers.

Putting her arms around us
she bids us rest our head on her shoulder
whispering, Don’t you know
with all your fear and anger
all you are fit for is love.

- Stephen Levine from Breaking the Drought - Visions of Grace

Thursday, July 9, 2009


I came across this on another blog.
If you Google it, it comes in many variations...
here's one.

"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave
with the intention of arriving safely
in an attractive and well preserved body
but rather to skid in sideways,
chocolate in one hand,
body thoroughly used up
totally worn out
and screaming
WOO HOO what a ride!"

The variations seem to be in what one is holding in one's hand or hands as one skids in. Chocolate works for me. The poet Mary Oliver says poems are meant to be read aloud. So read this one to yourself or someone else and when you get to "WOO HOO"...give it all you've got!