The head cook’s instructions for Dogen

(Dogen’s Tenzo Kyokun, “Instructions for the Head Cook,” became a central text for the Soto school of Zen, which he founded in the 13th century. In a beautiful series of images, Dogen urges his monks to exercise the tender care of a parent or grandparent toward each other, toward themselves, toward all things, animate or otherwise. “Handle the grains of rice as if they were your own eyes,” Dogen preached. I started thinking, what a pain in the ass he must have been if they ever actually let him in the kitchen!)

Oh childless father,
let me tell you about
this Grandmother
Mind: she slices.
She minces.
She chops.
She makes short work
of fat monks.
Go to the Dojo.
If you want to eat
on time, let
me nap.

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