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Instructions to the Cook: A Zen Master's Lessons in Living a Life That Matters Paperback – April 1, 1997


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Based on a 13th-century Japanese manual of the same title, this guide to modern-day Zen practice also details the history of Glassman's work in the world. An abbot of Zen communities in New York City and Los Angeles, Glassman is also the founder of the Greyston Mandala, a network that includes a commercial bakery, apartments for the homeless and other not-for-profit community development projects in Yonkers, a suburb of New York City. In Zen Buddhist tradition, the preparation of a meal is used as a metaphor for leading a meaningful life. Glassman and Fields (coauthor of Chop Wood, Carry Water) detail the five main "courses" of life: spirituality, study, livelihood, social action, and relationship and community Most widely recognized of the Greyston ventures is the successful bakery. Besides being a teacher of Zen and a noted social activist, Glassman is a pragmatic businessman. His description of how he and others who work with and for the jobless and homeless of Yonkers dealt with government agencies, banks, suspicious residents and the vagaries of the marketplace will satisfy the appetites of readers whose interest is as much in business practice as in Zen practice. In setting out his guidelines for conducting business, e.g., establishing self-directed management teams and sharing success with the community, Glassman occasionally strikes an imperious tone (reflecting the authority invested in Zen leaders), but the menu he offers is fresh, appealingly presented and thought- provoking. First serial to Tricycle magazine; author tour.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Both a manual for spiritual transformation and a call to action." New Age Journal

"Taking the Path of Zen and Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind have introduced scores of Americans to Zen Buddhism in the last two decades. Now, these two mini-classics are joined by a new book that promises to be an even more meaningful introduction to Zen--as well as the growing 'socially engaged Buddhism' movement." --Donn Fry, Seattle Times

"A delicious confection made of down-to-earth Zen wisdom and a deeply heartful demonstration of compassion in action." --Ram Dass

"Instructions is stimulating and insightful precisely because it is so well grounded in the fundamental teachings of Dogen Zenji and others--exceptionally practical teachings, moreover, which chart a course for the development of that 'social-action Zen' (led most forcefully by Roshi Glassman) which promises to become the Way of Zen here in America." --Peter Matthiessen

"A recipe for an enlightened life, Instructions to the Cook speaks volumes about finding nourishment in a voracious world, where so many things--from consumerism to unemployment--can create hunger, and where contentment can seem tantalizingly remote, an aroma from someone else's window." --Deborah Jerome-Cohen, New York Daily News

"A more authentic teaching by a more authentic person than Bernard Glassman, we are not likely to see in our times. He not only teaches all this, he has done it all." --Thomas Berry
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Harmony; 1st Pbk. Ed edition (April 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0517888297
  • ISBN-13: 978-0517888292
  • Product Dimensions: 4.5 x 0.4 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #705,940 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Helene Hoffman on May 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
I liked this book because it combined Zen and activism, a rare combination in our culture (unfortunately). Almost as soon as he hit the streets of New York to set up his Zen Center, Glassman was intent on helping the homeless in a meaningful way. What I enjoyed the most is when he focused on Zen principles in doing his activism. When a dilemma arose, he recommended that people meditate to find a possible solution. In the bakery he set up to employ the unemployed and homeless, he erected a meditation center so that people could meditate, if so inclined. I think his merging of spiritual practice, hard work, and activism is probably a good reason why his projects were successful. He realized that business without "more" is not fulfilling, and that spirituality needs to help the community we all live in, as its purpose is not simply to help our individual souls. A most worthwhile book. The only criticism: although he discussed himself, I would have liked to have learned even more about his background, how he came to the place of combining Zen and activism.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 10, 1997
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
On Becoming a Zen Cook
How do you go further from the top of a hundred-foot pole? The answer to this Zen koan, given on the opening page of Instructions to the Cook: A Zen Master1s Lessons in Living a Life that Matters (Bell Tower Harmony Books) is simply, 3Live life more fully.2
The Zen 3cook2 writing this book is Bernard Glassman, abbot of the Zen Community of New York and the Zen Center of Los Angeles, with assistance from Rick Fields, editor of Yoga Journal and co-author of the Zen book, Chop Wood, Carry Water. When Dr. Glassman (with a Ph.D. in mathematics from U.C.L.A.) was an aeronautical engineer working on manned missions to Mars at McDonnell-Douglas in the 1970s, he felt a hunger for 3something more.2 He began his practice of Zen and soon became a teacher himself.
Glassman vowed to serve the 3supreme meal2 to the world1s hungry. The supreme meal for a Zen cook is life lived to the fullest. By the time he wrote his cookbook, he had created a Zen community in New York, complete with uniquely profitable means of livelihood for its members, as well as several not-for-profit social action enterprises.
How did he come to serve up such a full meal? He began by gathering the ingredients at hand at started cooking. Along the way, he didn1t worry so much about doing the 3right thing2 as simply doing the 3next thing,2 which usually proved to be correct. His cookbook, which is also an autobiography of his work, shows that a meal concocted from spirituality, livelihood and service is quite fulfilling. His story, and the teaching he makes from it, has provided me with some of the most inspiring reading I1ve encountered in a long time. I want to pass along some of his recipes here for each of five courses which make up the complete meal.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 23, 1998
Format: Paperback
Filled with inspiration and common sense wisdom, Glassman shows that caring can become compassion, and in turn can significantly alter our communities for the better. This is a message of hope for those who see government subsidies and the welfare system as our only way to deal with the unemployed or underemployed.
Business owners and community leaders could learn more from this book than from sitting through dozens of meetings filled with people who like to complain, rather than take action. I highly recommend this book both for the joy of seeing that there is light in the world, and as an example of how compassion can reap profits in so much more than dollars and cents.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Blaine Greenfield on August 25, 2003
Format: Paperback
Enjoyed the taped version of INSTRUCTIONS TO THE COOK, written by Bernard Glassman and Rick Fields . . . subtitled A ZEN MASTER'S LESSONS IN LIVING A LIFE THAT MATTERS, it is actually
an autobiography that tells how Glassman took his beliefs
and used them to set up a Zen Center (with a successful
bakery) . . . I had previously thought that Buddhism and
entrepreneurism were terms that didn't even belong in the same
sentence; however, this book proved me wrong.
In addition, it confirmed for me the fact that PR-type folks sometimes
don't know what they're talking about . . . when coming up with
a name for the bakery, many advised against any mention
of the Zen tie-in . . . Glassman disagreed, though, because
he felt that to hide the fact would be not consistent with his
value system . . . he fortunately won out.
My only criticism: I would have liked to have seen a few
more actual lessons; i.e., suggestions that I could apply
to my daily life along the lines of the following one that
I did recall:
As with time, there's almost always enough money to
start the process [of starting a business or virtually
anything else].
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Format: Paperback
Instructions to the Cook is one of the most inspirational and wisdom-filled books I have ever read. The title of this book deceived my perception of this book so I want to stress to all readers; do not be mistaken, this book is neither instruction to a cook nor for just those with Buddhist beliefs.
Written with Rick Fields, Glassman compiles his deep insight and life experiences into a book that provides guidance for spiritual, mental, and physical well-being for all those who indulge. Regardless of your economic status, religious affiliations, or political beliefs, this book can be beneficial and applicable to all readers.
Glassman metaphorically uses the kitchen and the cook as a clever way to explain his inspirational teachings and wisdom. With Glassman as the chef, he teaches the world how to "cook" the supreme meal, which is living life to the fullest. The book explains how this supreme meal consists of cooking the five courses; spiritual practice, study, livelihood, social action, and relationships and community.
This book is so compelling and motivating because his life story is primary evidence that his recipe is worth cooking for those who hunger and aspire a more fulfilling life. Glassman explains how this fulfillment is found through spirituality, livelihood, and service. I could elaborate on each of his teachings; however, I will leave that for you to read for I am certain my summarizations will not do the justice of Glassman's un-comparable wisdom and insight. I found his instructions so stimulating because I always believed spirituality and service as an essential part of my well-being, but it seems our world has lost sight of the importance of spirituality and service in our selfish world.
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