Karma Chameleon

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( Dogen's Instructions for the Cook - XXVI)

The section we discussed yesterday mentions "Karma" and rebirth... so this is a good time for me to express a personal view on that.

My view is just my view, but is one that is sometimes criticized by Buddhists of a more literal or traditional bent ... who often tell me that my beliefs and comments will land me next life reborn as a wild fox, or perhaps in a Buddhist Hell.

According to Professor Foulk, the first

reference here is to "the famous story of a poor old woman who made an offering to Buddha of the water that she had used to rinse rice and, as a result, was reborn as a deva or human for fifteen kalpas [long ages], gained a male body [typically necessary for Budhahood in traditional Buddhism], and eventually became a buddha herself" ... the second is about "King Ashoka [who], legend has it, tried to contribute a huge amount of gold to a monastery, but was prevented by his son and ministers. ... Finally he took half a crabapple that he had in his own hands and ...  gave the fruit to the monks. They received it courteously, ground it into flour, and baked it into a cake, which was shared by all. This was Ashoka's final establishment of his good karmic roots."

(I mean, one may not need to take literally every belief of ancient Buddhism ... such as that belief about women, still felt in some corners of Buddhsm)


As for the [proper] attitude in preparing food offerings and handling ingredients, do not debate the fineness of things and do not debate their coarseness, but take as essential the profound arousal of a true mind and a respectful mind.

Have you not seen that a single bowl of starchy water, offered to Him of the Ten Names, naturally resulted in wondrous merit that carried an old woman through future births; and that half a crabapple fruit, given to a single monastery, enabled King Ashoka finally to establish his vast good karmic roots, gain a prediction, and bring about a great result? Although they create a karmic connection with the Buddha, [donations that are] large and vacuous are not the same as [ones that are] small and sincere. This is the practice of a [true] person.

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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