Sunday, August 17, 2008

Instructions to the Cook

Rachel (who has a blog I've participated in) recommended a book to me after she learned of my interest in supportive housing. The book, Instructions to the Cook: A Zen Master's Lessons in Living a Life That Matters, by Bernard Glassman and Rick Fields is a real gem! Thanks Rachel.

The premise of the book is based on a metaphor, proposed by the 13th century Zen master Dogen, that serves as a guide to living a complete and fulfilling life. The Zen master is a cook, who using the ingredients at hand, creates the "supreme meal" for the guests. Glassman invites us to be as cooks, practical in our spiritual lives, vowing to make a difference for those around us by using "local ingredients".

The fives courses to this meal we are preparing are:

1. Spirituality - taking time to centre and explore the "oneness" of all life.
2. Learning and knowledge - developing our intelligence for the job to be done.
3. Livelihood - being able to support ourselves through our work and efforts.
4. Social action - being aware of the needs of others.
5. Community and relationships - recognizing our interdependence with others and working for harmony.

Laying the foundation, Glassman then spells out clearly and concisely how to be a social activist in your own back yard, in the place where you live; helping others build lives that make a difference.

This gem of a book is quietly inspirational and it just so happens I baked a great loaf of bread today!

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