A Shrine in a Blade of Grass ...

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( Dogen's Instructions for the Cook - IX )

Today's passage makes reference to a famous Koan and story ...

When the World-honored One [The Buddha] was walking with the assembly of his followers, he pointed to the ground with his hand and said, "This place is suitable to build a shrine." The deva Indra then took a single blade of grass, stuck it in the ground, and said, "I have built the shrine." The World-honored One smiled (Case 4 in the Book of Serenity)

... and to this too ...

The tathâgatas of the ten directions, embracing the spirit of this dharani, turn the great wheel of the dharma in lands innumerable as motes of dust. (fascicle 7 of the Shurangama-samâdhi-sûtra)

Each brings to mind the poem by William Blake, Auguries of Innocense ...

To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.


The cook keeps careful watch over the area where the rice and soup are prepared, giving commands to the postulants, the servants, and the fire stokers, and instructing them in the handling of the various utensils. Nowadays, large monasteries have rice cooks and soup cooks, but those are nevertheless under the command of the cook. In the past there were no such rice or soup cooks, only the single officer, the cook himself.

When ordinarily preparing ingredients, do not regard them with ordinary [deluded] eyes, or think of them with ordinary emotions. "Lifting a single blade of grass builds a shrine; entering a single mote of dust turns the great wheel of the dharma." Even when, for example, one makes a soup of the crudest greens, one should not give rise to a mind that loathes it or takes its lightly; and even when one makes a soup of the finest cream, one should not give rise to a mind that feels glad and rejoices in it. If one is at the outset free from preferences, how could one have any aversions? Even when confronted with poor ingredients, there is no negligence whatsoever; even when faced with scanty ingredients, one exerts oneself. Do not change your mind in accordance with things. Whoever changes his mind in accordance with things, or revises his words to suit the person [he is speaking to], is not a man of the way.

From: Tenzo Kyokun - Instructions for the Cook by Eihei Dogen - Translated by Griffith Foulk

(remember: recording ends soon after the beginning bells;
a sitting time of 20 to 35 minutes is recommended)

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