In Zen kitchen practice we train in the presence and care for one’s life, one’s nourishment and the gifts of the earth. Our practice is to deeply connect with our activity and life. Our relationship to the preparation of food reveals our relationship to all being. The many hindrances to a present mind and loving heart become evident as we mindfully chop carrots or peel ginger. Because our cooking practice is a profound mirror revealing the habits of mind in each moment, we consider kitchen practice as a central form of service to the community and a deep expression of dana (generosity).
Whether you are new to Zen or have been sitting meditation for awhile, working in the kitchen is a wonderful way to enter practice or deepen your understanding of the self through mindful activity. In Zen, shared activity is the training. We come and work together to support ourselves and one another with our presence. Our way is rooted in thousands of years of monastic practice where all work is done in silence and functional speech so that we can be with our activity completely.
Our kitchen practice is rooted in 13th Century Zen Teacher, Eihei Dogen’s book, Instructions to the Cook. In this text he lays out how Zen practitioners are to regard and work with food. Focusing our attention on the preciousness of life, he encourages those in the kitchen to “see the pot as your own head, see the water as your lifeblood.” Not only will we prepare food together, we will refer to this text from time-to-time as a way of deepening our understanding of mind, heart and life.
Zen Kitchen Practice supports you in:
- Bringing sacred presence to the preparation of food
- Entering Zen practice through mindful activity
- Allowing meditation to spread into the everydayness of life
- Learning to prepare healthy, organic, vegetarian meals
- Having a sense of our ancient, Zen cooking practice
Our culture has lost many of the opportunities to experience the joy of preparing meals together. Though it was once integral to our human life, we now reserve it for holidays and special occasions. We enthusiastically invite you to share in this nourishing practice of realizing our deeply interconnected life through the shared care of food.
Together we prepare food for our retreat meals. You can use our online volunteer system to sign up for kitchen training – please click here for the full schedule and to sign up.
If you have any questions or if you would like more information, please email the head of the kitchen at tenzo[at]brooklynzen[dot]org.
Thank you and we look forward to making meals together.