How To Cook Your Life
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Ostensibly a profile of American Soto Zen priest Edward Espe Brown , for 30 years the head cook of the California Tassajara Zen Center, the film is in the end more about how we relate to food, and ultimately how we relate to life. In Japan's Soto Zen tradition, cooking is more than just feeding the monks. It's about close attention to detail. It's about respect for the produce of the Earth. In the process, its as much about preparing yourself as it is a meal.
13th century Japanese Zen master Dogen elevated the position of cook within his monasteries to near the importance of the abbot. He saw in the handling and preparation of food a means for cooks to practice mindfulness, and through careful attention to detail maintain the health and morale of the monastic community. He wrote a treatise on the subject, Instructions to the Tenzo, that is still studied in Soto Zen monasteries. In fact you'll see in the film some of the cooks at Tassajara studying this very text.Read more ›
Now I am thinking more about what I do as an experience. How to Cook Your Life has brought a perspective to into my life. I just ordered The Complete Tassajara Cookbook: Recipes, Techniques, and Reflections from the Famed Zen Kitchen and the stories and insight are wonderful. Oh, and it has some great recipes too!
Zen is a practice of mindfulness, and of course, there is a lot of it in this movie. But also are other aspects which are so very Zen: honesty, humor, poetry, humanity, compassion toward humans and animals, and the attitude toward the problems in our lives. Brown is a priest and a teacher, but he is has not a stature of a Zen master, yet anyone can see how much it can be learned from a practitioner who spend fourty years practicing Zen. And for those of you who like Dalai Lama and his sense of humor,there is also something charming about the brand of humor represented by Brown, and his master teacher, Suzuki.
Cooking was very important practice in Zen monasteries, but also any work done, and this movies shows how much meaning any work can have. Any work which serves the others can be elevated to a meaningful activity, and yes, be holly to some extend, if done with the right spirit.
And I just want to add a comment fro those who are not familiar with Mahayana Buddhism (to which Zen belongs). You can see Brown talking about old water kettles, and there is a lot of down to Earth poetry in it.But he also sheds a tear, so, why is he so emotional, someone may ask. As a long time practitioner, Ed Brown must have to take Boddhistava vows, which means such a practitioner has the attitude the others first.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A great film on food and Buddhism. The film mixes subjects such as counciousness, justice,compassion quality in a way that is fun and thoughtful. Read morePublished 14 months ago by jolbac
Great movie for enlightenment. Purchased due to the fact no longer on Netflix instant que. Great movie about life and brings up the importance of what we give up when we don't cook... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Jon
I happen to come upon this video by accident one day as it played on a pbs channel. Days after seeing it, I was still thinking about it. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Judith