It's Just Food!

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The talk centers on the cultural attitudes toward food, especially in the context of waste and consumption. The discussion elaborates on the importance of treating food with care and reverence, reflecting Zen teachings, particularly those of Dogen, who emphasizes not wasting even a grain of rice. The prevalence of processed and fast foods in modern diets is criticized, with a call to return to more mindful, respectful ways of handling and consuming food that nourish both the body and spirit. Cultural shifts that prioritize convenience over connection are also explored, highlighting a disconnection from the natural and spiritual qualities of food.

- **Dogen's teachings on food waste and mindfulness**.
- **Michael Pollan's "Omnivore's Dilemma"** is referenced as a critique of modern dietary habits and the complexity of choosing what to eat.
- **David Chadwick** and practices at the Tassajara Zen Center from the 60s are discussed concerning food service and management.
- **Hundertwasser**, an Austrian artist, is cited for his creative and fundamental approach to art, which parallels the call for authenticity in food preparation and consumption.

AI Suggested Title: "Mindful Eating: Zen Wisdom and Modern Habits"


million kalpas and listen to remember and accept to taste the truth of the Tathagata's words. Good morning, we meet again here in the sweetness of our hearts. It's not so often we get to sit in the sweetness of our hearts, but sitting here together we can do that. It's pretty nice. So thank you for coming


today and being here. Today I'd like to speak about something that's pretty important to me, which I don't usually speak about because it seems very challenging to talk about. On the whole, we live in a culture that, and in the context of the culture we live in, I find mostly people are not particularly


responsive to this subject. Oh well. But I thought I'd speak about it anyway today. The subject is about food and about wasting food. I've spent many years of my life now, more than 40 years, cooking and studying Zen. And so it's a subject that's important to me and dear to my heart. And over the years I've endeavored to study how to not waste food. Again, we're all living in this culture that wastes a tremendous amount of food, whether


it's fruit that there's too much of that can't be sold and so it just left to rot, and huge amounts of corn that just lay on the ground because they missed the silo. And then in our own lives, often we just throw things away because it's too much trouble to worry about it and after all it doesn't matter because we have so much. We're so affluent. So it's hard to take very seriously, for instance, Zen Master Dogen, who we study so much, says don't waste even a single grain of rice. Treat the food as though it was your eyesight. Treat food as though it was that precious, as though it was your eyes. Handle it carefully


and sincerely. Don't waste even a single grain. So I know when I cooked at Tassajara many years ago, even then, which is 35, 40 years ago, there was a little bit more concern about taking care of food. But now things are so affluent. We have so much. Who cares? And people say it's just food. You know, like food is now, if you read, for instance, Michael Pollan's new book, Omnivore's Delight, Omnivore's Dilemma. Omnivores do delight in a wide range of foods, it's true. But Omnivore's


Dilemma is sort of like what to eat. And he says it's a sign of the disorder in our society that now you can't just decide what to eat. And now you need experts to help you. And you don't know what's in anything you buy anymore. But as a society, you know, an apple is just an apple, a carrot is just a carrot. They're all the same. They're interchangeable. It doesn't matter where they come from. And food has become a commodity, in other words. It's no longer like precious. It's no longer like eyesight. It has no individuality. It has no distinct essence or spiritual capacity. It's matter. It's stuff. You know, it's just a fuel for the human machine. This is the culture we live in that doesn't value or find stuff, things precious, because things are also spirit. And things are also our labor and our good hearts


and our concern and care for one another and our blood and our sweat and our tears and our effort and the work of migrant workers. And it's all the fuel we're burning. And why we're so affluent and we have so much food is because, you know, whether you read Michael Pollan or, you know, a while back, there was also, for instance, an article, and I think it was in Harper's, you know, the oil we eat. And of course, we're using more calories of oil now to produce a calorie of food. So why we have so much is because we have oil. And then we burn it. We use the oil to make food. And then sometimes we process the food using even more oil. You know, that's how you get Cheerios or potato chips or Pop-Tarts, because it's all oil, you know. And we can still, as a culture, you know, people can make fortunes


using burning oil to provide, you know, manufactured product called food. But, you know, that kind of food, which I'll come back to, you know, a bit later in my talk, that kind of food doesn't have, you know, poetic essence. It's the difference between also like, you know, tap water. People don't write poems about tap water. You know, tap water doesn't have the quality of dreams and reflections and images and pictures that a lake or an ocean or a stream or, you know, a river have. You know, water has a poetic value and it's deep in our hearts and in our souls, you know, water. And, you know, when we give people Buddhist names, you know, like my Buddhist name is


Longevity Ocean. I mean, Longevity Mountain, Peaceful Sea. So they don't say, you know, Peaceful Tap Water. You know, when we give somebody a Buddhist name and we don't give somebody the name, you know, Pop Tart or, you know, Cheerios, you know, maybe Bamboo or, you know, Plum Blossom. But these things don't have, you know, resonance, finally, you know, in our heart really and deep in our heart and in our soul, in our spirit, you know, and they don't touch us in some essential way, the way that, you know, food actually can and does when we're sensitive and open and respectful and grateful and connected with it. And it's very difficult to connect with a manufactured product. Sometimes it captures us, you know, it captivates us and we eat, you know, more than we should have it. But it doesn't, it may capture us or captivate us, but it doesn't,


you know, touch us, finally. And it doesn't feed us. So this is very interesting that we're in this kind of, you know, circumstance and situation. So, you know, Dogen, years ago when I started cooking at Tassajar, I started reading Dogen and he says, treat the food as though it was your eyesight. Don't waste even a single grain. And for many years at Zen Center, we used to, when the food came back from the dining room or the zendo, we would use rubber spatulas to clean out every last bit of food. I think that lasted about five years. Somewhere in the early 70s, we decided you could just take the leftover food and you could just dump it from the serving container back into the pot. And then it would be, you know, leftovers. And you didn't have to worry if there was something


still in the pot, you know, that was left there because you just dumped it. You didn't actually clean it. It's a matter of like, and this is something, you know, it's one thing to care about food, but then to actually change your physical habit is very challenging for most of us, to actually pick up a rubber spatula or even to have it in your house and then clean out the pot. And then what do you do with the leftovers? Again, we're living in a culture that, you know, the general idea is make more than enough of food, serve more than enough, serve more than anybody needs, so you couldn't possibly run out, so nobody would possibly be disappointed, so nobody would possibly be upset with you for not making enough. And nobody would ever accuse you of being stingy, you know, because people would say you're just stingy then, rather than, or, you know, you're trying to be thrifty or something. Well, we have


so much, why are you trying to do that? Why don't you just give us everything that we could possibly want? What's your problem? So this is, you know, in the context of a culture we live in like this, you know, this is, it's very difficult to just say, well, I'm going to serve the amount that I think will serve everybody, and if we run out, I will, you know, provide something else for you. But when we started at Zen Center back in the 60s, you know, we didn't have, we didn't have resources, we didn't have money, we didn't have all the money we needed for food, we didn't have all the food to provide, and, you know, David Chadwick used to, like, serve in the dining room at Tuscarora, now we have one set of food for every four people, and there's more than enough, you know, and we serve four people a dessert that will serve eight, so there'll be plenty of leftovers to give to the students, so there'll be leftovers from that which will


be compost, and so everybody will get more than enough, nobody will feel deprived, nobody will be unhappy, everybody will be happy, they've all had, you know, plenty of sweets and sugar, and so, you see, this is our society. But, you know, back in the 60s, David used to, we'd serve the food and then David would watch all the tables, and then if one table was eating more than another table, he'd go to the table that was eating less, and he'd say, are you, are you finished with this, you know, and then he'd take the food from one table and take it to another table, but we don't, we don't, you know, but then, you know, you'd have to ask somebody, may I take this, are you finished with this, have you had enough, you'd have to actually ask somebody, and now we wouldn't want to have to actually ask somebody like that, we just want to let them have their food, and then we give more food to the other people, you know, because this is, wow, you know, this is America.


This is our culture, you know, and we don't run out, and we're careful to, you know, provide, and it's a wonderful spirit, you know, that's a wonderful feeling, let's let's be generous, you know, let's be, you know, let's offer, and I've been at other Buddhist centers that are like this too, and sometimes the cook just takes the food that comes back and just dumps it right into the compost, because, you know, you just make way, you just make more than people could possibly want, and then, and then that's your job, it's just to provide more, you know, so it's very hard to take Dogon seriously, but we used to, we didn't have resources, and then, you know, when you don't have resources, it's, you know, it's different, isn't it? And then, you know, that one year, the Tassar Road


was washed out. There was a rock, like a small cabin on the road, and then another place where the road washed out, and there was a gully six or eight feet deep across the road, and we couldn't, and there were trees down, and we couldn't get food into Tassar, so we ate a lot of wheat berries, we happened to have, and every day we had four people out foraging in the woods for miner's lettuce and curly dog, and we grew a few sprouts, but we didn't have a lot of things on hand, so we ate, you know, very simply, and when you're in a group of people, and they don't have the rest of the affluent society to look at and compare yourself to, you know, nobody complained, and everybody was fine. I mean, we were hungry, compared to our usual habits, but when you don't have the neighbors to compare yourself to and everything, it's


not the same kind of problem, so it's been an interest of mine to, and a kind of devotion of mine to take care of food, to try to use, you know, and not waste a grain, and when the food comes back, to take it out of the pot with a rubber spatula, and then to find some way to reuse it, and, you know, coincidentally, as it were, my first job as a chef was to use leftovers, and now, somehow, cooks don't think about this, because, you know, cooking is like, you should just, you know, like once I was going to do some cooking classes or a cooking show or something, and, you know, the advertising material said,


Ed Brown will teach even inveterate meat eaters how to produce vegetarian masterpieces, like, you wouldn't want to eat just food, would you? Wouldn't you rather eat a masterpiece? And if you're going to cook, shouldn't you cook, like, amazing, incredible things, and not just food? And shouldn't your latest creation surpass your previous ones? And somehow it's become, you know, it's not stylish anymore, it's not, you know, it's not at all stylish, actually, to cook, you know, unless you're doing masterpieces. And somehow, so just to go and, you know, prepare a few vegetables or some rice, and, you know, this is not, you know, we're so unaccustomed now to cooking. It turns out that of the, you know, 49% of American families who still have meals together,


most of them actually, you know, they don't actually eat the same food, but each person, you know, microwaves their product and then brings it to the table to eat with everybody else. And this is what's called eating together. So, even eating, and it used to be, you know, that it was only, it used to be like 25 or 30% of families never ate together. So now there's a, so 75% were still eating, but now it's down to 49%, less than half of families eating together. So you wouldn't actually want to have to talk to anybody while you're eating. You'd want to just kind of fuel up and get back to the TV and the iPod and, you know, the stuff that is really fun and kind of entertaining and enjoyable. And, you know, because connection, family, relationship, love, you know, sustenance,


nourishment that comes through, you know, this kind of connection, I mean, you know, there's entertainment to be had. And that would take time. And it's so challenging, isn't it? So, this again is, you know, what we're up against, you know, if any of us who are interested, any of you who are interested, you know, in actually taking care of food, actually, you know, cooking food, enjoying food, enjoying food in the company of family and friends, getting together with others, nourishing yourself, nourishing others, where does it come from? You know, and it doesn't come out of a package. You know, that's convenient, but actually nourishing yourself and other people doesn't finally come out of a package. It comes out of your heart. It comes out of your, you know, connecting with food, connecting with others, seeing,


meeting, receiving the, you know, gratitude for the food and blessedness and the bounty that, you know, we have. And then acknowledging that and receiving that, taking that in and responding to it and offering it and sharing it with others and providing that for yourself. And now, of course, it's, you know, most of us, if we're living alone, it's very challenging to, you know, cook at all, because after all, you're not worth it, are you? It might be worth it to cook for somebody else, but you wouldn't really be worth cooking for, would you? This is the kind of idea we have, you know. And so, this is the same idea as, you know, the food. Is food precious? Is food worth caring about? Are you precious? Are you worth caring about? And if you can take care of food as though it was your eyesight, you can take


care of yourself, you can nourish yourself. You take care of the food, you take care of yourself, you nourish yourself, you nourish other people by actually finding something that's precious and honoring it and respecting it and taking care of it. And you can start with the food, you can start with the person. If you start with the person, you might want to offer them some food and they might care about yourself enough to, you know, cook. I was noticing this especially a few years back when, you know, I used to go to, I went to a number of vipassana retreats. So, there's often like a fruit out at breakfast and there's apples and oranges and bananas. And when you come through the line, then you see a lot of banana peels. Now, do you suppose that's because most people really like bananas better? You know, I just can't help feeling that most people aren't worth sliced fruit. And you'd have to, the apple or the orange,


you'd have to actually, like, you have to actually work at it. Banana, you just take the peel off and, you know, eat it. But an apple or an orange, you know, like an orange, you'd have to peel it. So, most people aren't worth, you know, peeling an orange for. And fast food, you know, fast food is food that right away is gratifying. You don't have to work, you don't have to make any effort, you don't have to give anything of yourself for that food. And as they say in the advertising, you know, have it your way. You know, and you just kind of snap your fingers and, of course, you martyr yourself to some, you know, job in order to have the money to, you know, buy the stuff. But this is America and, you know, what else are we going to do?


So, Dogen says, you know, when you prepare food and when you wash rice and prepare vegetables, do it with your own hands, using your own eyes, making sincere effort. You find something, you know, that you can give yourself to in this way. You look at something, you see something and you take it into your hand and you take care of it with your hands. And that's, you know, and then that brings you nourishment. That brings your hands nourishment because your hands get to be hands. They get to actually do something rather than sitting around all day while you're entertaining yourself with your iPod and your, you know, internet and surfing the internet and


all the other things that we do that, you know, our hands don't get to do much anymore. And all those acupuncture points on your hands that, you know, you could be, you know, cooking and doing something with and then stimulating your hands and, you know, your hands get to be happy, your body starts to be happy. Oh no, we wouldn't want to bother. That's too much work. You know, and why would we work when, you know, we can just have food without working? Well, you'd work because you might be happy. You'd be happy to be doing something. Your hands would be happy, your body would be happy and you would find some delight in the food that you're working with and you could actually learn how to take care of something and, you know, respond to something. So, Dogon says, make, you know, making sincere effort and sincere effort means, you know, the blemishes show. You just make your best effort. It's not perfect. It's


not like there's not faults or mistakes or things wrong or that, you know, it's not like you're working on a masterpiece. You don't have to produce a masterpiece. You just take care of something, make a sincere, honest effort and see how it comes out and, you know, you have something to eat. And Dogon says, you know, don't be idle for a moment. Don't be careless about some things and careful about others. There's a lot of steps in cooking. There's a lot of things to take care of, a lot of things to respond to. And we sort of think like, well, I'll do the things that are fun and creative and interesting and then I'll leave the dishes for somebody else and the pots for somebody else and somebody else can sweep the floor and thank goodness that mom will come by eventually. So usually, you know, we're not always thinking about, you know, all the different things


to be careful about, you know. And also Dogon says, of course, you know, when you're working with poor ingredients, sustain your effort. When you're working with high quality ingredients, don't become lazy. You know, sustain your awareness and your careful attention to each thing and take care of it. Because again, you know, in our culture it's so hard for us to hear we have so much. But then finally, if we have so much, you know, is any of that, anything, does it, it loses its value, you know. It's not precious. And then we, you know, each of us in our own lives, so do we have any value? Are we precious? Are we important? Are we useful? Wendell Berry wrote, you know, a whole book, you know, what are people for? I mean, you know, we're using machines to cook, you know, to grow the food and machines to


manufacture the food. And what are you going to do? You're going to purchase entertainment. Because, you know, you're not capable, we're not capable anymore of just entertaining ourselves or being curious or interested in things. So, you know, why would we, you know, even try that, you know, let's just have some entertainment. And now, you know, even to have pleasure is cost money. You know, so we abandon, you know, what this is, is, you know, we abandon our own capacity to what Dogen calls way-seeking mind, the mind that seeks how to live, what to do. We abandon that and consume and work and consume. And we're not taking care of things. We're not responding to, you know, the food and the people and the ground and the earth and the planet. So, I appreciate it then when Dogen says, continuing in this particular paragraph, you know,


do not fail, do not give away your opportunity, even if it's just a drop of water in the ocean of merit. Do not fail to add even one speck of dirt to the summit of the mountain of wholesome deeds. One drop of water, and our individual effort is like this one drop of water, it doesn't seem like it's going to make any difference. And this is, you know, what we're all, you know, what finally is important and is anything worth actually caring for. And how much, you know, do you have to have left in your pot or your bowl, you know, to care for it? How much do you have to have left on your plate to care for it? You know, where is the boundary for what's worth taking care of? Dogen says, you know,


it's real easy to have that boundary just be kind of vague and amorphous. So, he says, even if it's just a drop in the ocean of merit, you know, sustain your effort, don't be lazy, don't be idle, take care of it. Even if it's just a speck of dirt at the summit of mountain of wholesome deeds. You know, honor something, appreciate something, care for it. So, anyway, this is, you know, I find it difficult, as I say, I'm sorry if, you know, this is challenging for me to bring up, I sort of hesitate to bring it up. Because on the whole, you know, as I talk about it over the years, I don't notice people being particularly responsive, you know, we just have so much. It's only food. As though, you know, what was our life?


You know, and without food, you know, do we have a life? It's only food. But it's also only, you know, our lives and our hearts and our spirits, our vitality, something, you know, that we could care for and find precious. And, you know, traditional cultures, you know, had this kind of understanding about food. Before the advent of, you know, cheap oil, food was precious, life was precious. You know, now what's precious is, you know, that a few people can make a ton of money. You know, there was like a cartoon in the New Yorker a few months back. There's a business meeting, you know, and somebody's up at the, you know, the graph chart, other people sitting there at the table, and the caption is, in the end-of-the-world scenario, there will be very few opportunities for profit.


But in the pre-end-of-the-world scenario, we have ample opportunities. So let's burn up all the cheap oil, and of course, you know, making money, you know, you can make a lot of money in food as long as you're not growing it. This is, it turns out, it's much easier to make money in food, you know, if you're manufacturing or, you know, processing food and turning it into something else. And it turns out, you know, that, you know, we'll pay a lot of money not to cook. You know, not to actually confront, ah, a potato. You know, what am I going to do with this? How do you cook it? And of course, if we're not careful, you know, we're going to try to turn it, you know, and like, I can't make it taste like those McDonald's french fries, no matter what I do. Because it's, you know, now our, you know, our whole sense of taste is skewed.


And, you know, when I started making biscuits at Tassajara, you know, back in the 60s, they never came out right. And I tried, you know, more butter, less butter, Crisco, you know, different kinds of fats, eggs with eggs, without eggs, with water, with milk. You know, I tried a lot of things and, you know, after four or five, you know, tries at biscuits and they're not coming out right still, I thought, like, right compared to what? And, you know, we have these ideas. And I thought about it and I thought, you know, I think I'm trying to make that Pillsbury biscuit that came out of a can and you crack it on the counter and twist it open. And my biscuits just didn't taste like Pillsbury. And we get these strange, you know, standards.


And I also made biscuit biscuits, by the way, it didn't taste like the biscuit biscuits either. For the biscuit biscuits, you just took the powder, dumped it in the bowl, stirred in some milk with a fork. And then you didn't even have to shape them. You just took your fork and blocked it onto the pan. And then they came out in all these different shapes. Those were good. So my biscuits weren't Pillsbury. So I thought, you know what? Maybe I'd just taste the biscuits of today, see what they're like. So I made biscuits again and then, you know, I tried one of my biscuits and it was, it was so good. It was buttery and flaky. And it kind of melted in your mouth. And it was weedy. It actually had whole wheat flour, you know, in it. And so it tasted like wheat, like the earth, like the sun, like the air, like water.


You know, there's like poetry again, you know. There's the possibility of connection with life itself, you know. It doesn't come out of, and that connection with life itself doesn't come out of the can. Sunny, you know, Rilke's poem, he says, sunny, earthy, real. Oh, knowledge, pleasure, joy. Amen. And it's not just biscuits, of course, but it's, you know, our lives. We start trying to make our lives look like Cosmopolitan Magazine or something. I don't know, the sitcoms on television. Who are those people? Are we, you know, why would you want to be like them? Or, you know, like what, you know. And, you know, you're supposed to have a smile and, you know, have the right clothes. And then, you know, finally you could, you know, like you could fit in or something, you know.


And I spent my whole life outside of this. I don't know. It seemed to have survived, but we'll see how it goes. But, you know, I spent a lot of years, you know, trying to be a competent, capable, grown-up adult. I mean, is that too much to expect? But the problem with trying to be a competent, capable, grown-up adult is that when anything is not, when you're not, when you're less than competent, capable, and grown-up, it's so distressing. You become like a baby. So the very effort to attain, you know, this competency, you know, is causing me, you know, all kinds of, you know, tantrums and things that I can't do it. It's so upsetting that I can't be capable and competent and growing up. And then other people always seem to be questioning my competence and capability. And, of course, that's very annoying and frustrating. And it's important then to get, you know, upset with them and angry at them that,


you know, they don't seem to recognize your competence and capability, you know. Ah, well. And each of us, you know, so each of us, you know, are we going to have some standard to measure up to? Or can we be the biscuit of today? Can we be a, you know, can we be, you know, a potato that, you know, didn't, you know, wasn't processed and didn't come out of, you know, the McDonald's, you know, conveyor belt? You know, they're growing, you know, thousands of acres now of one kind of potato all over the world so they can supply McDonald's, you know. And it's not good for the land, you know, that kind of, you know, what do they call it? You know, mass one product over areas. You know, potatoes grow better if you get about 12 kinds and in little groups.


And then, you know, then they're not susceptible to pests. You need less pesticide. You know, they're not susceptible to disease. But when you get huge monocrops, you know, then they're susceptible. But that's okay. We can genetically engineer it so that it's not a problem. And you can eat, you know, genetically engineered food and manufacture. It's all the same, you know. It's just food, just fuel. So what's important, finally, you know, and is there any, you know, heart or soul or spirit or something that we can connect with and touch and, you know, meet and know? Something that will nourish us, sustain us in our lives? You know, I'm very fond of a story Suzuki Roshi told once or twice. It's kind of a bizarre story.


So and again, you know, in the context of our culture, it's kind of like, what are they thinking? But, you know, when Suzuki Roshi went to study with his teacher, his father had been a Zen master, and Suzuki Roshi went to study with one of his father's students as a young man, you know, 11 years old or so. So when he was 11, 12, 13, he was studying with his teacher. He said most of the other boys left. He said he wasn't smart enough to leave. I feel the same way. I could have become somebody. But Suzuki Roshi said that, you know, one time they used to make in the spring pickles. And years ago at Tassara we did this. You take a rice bran and you mix it with salt and it's dry and then you put it in a barrel.


You put a layer of the rice bran and salt, then you put in the daikon radish or cabbage or something in there, and then you put another layer of rice bran and salt, and the salt draws moisture out of the vegetable and the salt goes in. So you end up with these salted vegetables, which also get a little bit of the nourishment and flavor of the rice bran. And then we used to, you know, eat these. And of course, this is not our diet, you know. Some people refer to this as the punishment breakfast. But this is, you know, pre-refrigeration. This is from another world, you know, which wasn't, you know, burning so much oil. And, you know, we're not going to go back there, but that's not exactly the point, you know, that we might go back there because, you know, we're going to go forward somewhere,


but we don't quite know where at this point, do we? But one year they were making these pickles and some of them, instead of getting salted, rotted. And Suzuki Rishi's teacher served them anyway, because you don't waste food. And he still apparently considered the rotted pickles food. So after two or three days of this, the young Suzuki Rishi thought, you know, this will never do and we need to do something about this. And, you know, if something's distasteful, what do you do? Well, he took the pickles and he, in the dark of the night, went to the far end of the garden, dug a hole and buried them. You know, if something's distasteful, dig a hole and bury it. And then the next day they were back on the table. It's funny how the things we bury, you know, turn up again in our lives.


It doesn't seem to be so easy to bury things and we don't quite know what's going to be coming to the surface as, you know, we go forward. And his teacher didn't say that he knew who had taken them or he didn't seem to be concerned about who had buried them or, you know, let on that he knew who had buried them or anything like that. He just said, before you have anything else to eat, you're going to eat these pickles. And these pickles, I've been around some rotten food. Probably, you know, all of you have. These rotten pickles are, you know, rather like barnyard, barnyard and, you know, animal droppings and, you know, they're not good. It's no wonder they weren't eating this. But Suzuki actually said that he, they ate the pickles. He said, it was the first time in my life I experienced what in Zen we call no thought.


Because you could not eat those pickles and have a thought. If you had any thought at all, you would, you know, it would be to not be chewing these pickles and to get them out of your mouth, out of your throat, you know. So, he said he had no thought and it was just chew and swallow, chew and swallow. So, this kind of, you know, this is, I don't have that kind of devotion to not wasting food. And when I say not to waste, I don't mean that you should be eating rotten pickles, you know, and I don't personally eat rotten pickles or rotten food or, you know. But I do try to take care of things, you know, leftovers.


And there is a kind of, you know, you can take an interest in what to do with leftovers. I mean, one of the things I made originally with leftovers was Greek lemon soup, you know, and you take rice. And if you're going to have rice in your soup, do you want to cook it up just for your soup? No, you have your leftover rice and then you have your rice already and then you can make Greek lemon soup. At the end of Greek lemon soup, you whip up eggs with lemon juice and then you whisk the soup into the eggs and then you whisk the eggs back into the soup and you have this Greek lemon soup with this rice in it. But you wouldn't want to have to cook up the rice just to have it in your soup. No, you take the rice from the refrigerator and then you have a very immediate soup. It's not complicated. And then I looked at a recipe for minestrone and it says a half a cup of spaghetti and three quarters of a cup of potatoes and, you know, a half a cup of red beans. And then there's this huge long list, which looks to me like somebody cleared out the refrigerator. And yet the recipe in the book makes it sound like you take these things fresh from the


cupboard in order to make your soup. And you just don't do that. People making minestrone soup over the centuries did not start with fresh ingredients. This is a way to use your leftovers. And you have some onions and garlic and some thyme and oregano and maybe some tomato to bring it all together. And then you have all of your leftover pastas and you make sure that it will fit in the spoon. So sometimes you have to chop up the leftovers so they fit in the spoon. And then you have this delicious soup. And then people say, how did you do that? So I'm like, well, excuse me. You can feel connection to and resonance with. Or, you know, are we going to live with manufactured products and where food is just a commodity? And then if food is a commodity, how about you? Yeah. Are you something other than a commodity? Or you're just a consumer?


And consumers are no longer, you know, I mean, if you're once at some point, you know, you're just a consumer and you're not like a, you know, somebody who's in connection with the planet, with the earth, with food, with gardens, with, you know, other people where we become people who are disconnected. It's a shame. And it's sad because, you know, we're all, wherever I go in the world, you know, I meet people who are good hearted and friendly and kind. And yet we've lost, you know, we seem to have lost our way in our spirit. And, you know, anyway, just one other point about that, I was one of my favorite artists


is an Austrian, you know, artist named Hundertwasser. He managed, you know, somewhere in the 30s to escape the Nazis. He used to dress up in his uncle's Austrian army uniform. He was half Jewish and dress up in his uncle's Austrian army uniform to answer the door, especially at night. Anyway, he managed to escape during the war and became an artist. And he used to make his own paints, among other things. And he'd find bricks and objects in the street and would grind them up and mix them with a resin or whatever it was to make a paint. And he said, how can you do something creative with machine processed, ready-made paints? He was, you know, in his way, you know, a fundamentalist. But a different kind of, you know, fundamentalist.


And he was critical of people who would take, you know, huge, thick, you know, put on paint, machine-made paint, you know, real thick. And he used to, you know, paint layer and layer and layer of paint. So the thickness came, you know, from the layers of paint. And then it has a depth to it. And then you see into it. And it's not just this, you know, thing in your face. It's something, you know, it's like a person. It's like something real. It's something you can relate to. And then it's, there's depth and resonance. And you feel that in the paintings. But again, you know, and then he used to say also, of course, you know, he used to go, sometimes he was invited. He did design, you know, these buildings in Vienna for low-cost housing, which are very idiosyncratic. And he made sure that the floors were not level. You know, the floors go up and down.


Because, you know, if you just walk on level floors, your feet go dead. I mean, what do you think? I mean, doesn't that make sense? And he said he used to go to architectural conventions and then tell them, you're all fascists making people live in straight lines. But, you know, this is our life, you know. And then, you know, the Chinese, you know, the Taoists, you know, say only evil moves in a straight line. You know, for the rest of us, we're kind of like feeling our way along and going here and going there. And then we find things that we can connect with and work with and touch and, you know, respond to. And so obviously, you know, if I give a talk like this and, you know, I share something of my heart with you and you will do with it what you do. So you can set it aside. Or if something moves you or touches you, you know, you can work with it and see what


comes out of it for you in your life in terms of meeting things and taking care of things and responding to the bits and pieces of your life and finding, you know, something of value, something important, precious to take care of very carefully. Because this fundamentally, finally, you know, our capacity to find something precious, take care of something carefully, sustaining our effort, whether it seems important or not. And Dogen says, you know, this is to not think with your ordinary mind and to not see with your ordinary eyes. Because if you see with your ordinary eyes and your ordinary mind, you know, it's not worth it. We have plenty. We can throw it away. You know, so to do something without, you know, your ordinary eyes and your ordinary mind is to actually meet something and take care of it. So I wish you well with your lives and finding your way with all of this


in our strange and marvelous world. Thank you again for being here and for your sweet presence. Again, you know, when we sit together, we can sit in the sweetness of our hearts. And it's safe to do that here. We don't have to protect ourselves or defend ourselves. And we don't have to attack anyone or belittle others. We can just sit here inside in our hearts and let everyone in the room, you know, into our heart. Which is a very, you know, rare in our culture, our society. So it's wonderful that we have a place like this to do this. Thank you again. Blessings. I wish you the best.