The tenzo needs to clean all the pots and utensils that were used at lunch for the rice and soup and attentively wash them clean, and for all the various things, put away in high places the things that belong in high places. That means heavy and big things should be put in low places, and light or small things should be placed in high places. Naturally there are things that belong to a low place or a high place.
So this is again discrimination and non-discrimination, or difference and equality—how we see it from both sides. Dogen is saying that when we work in the kitchen and put all those things in suitable places, we need to understand dharma—how to view things equally, and how to view things in the most suitable way, without discrimination. These are in a sense two contradictory things, but the two should both be there, discrimination and non-discrimination, in this very simple action of placing in suitable places. So we have to think and be attentive, and we need to show compassion to each and every thing—where they can be most stable and secure. This is a very day-to-day, small thing but still we should be carefully attentive to things in their natural places.[audio http://sanshin.podomatic.com/enclosure/2015-01-13T04_00_00-08_00.mp3]
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This talk continues Shohaku Okumura Roshi’s commentary on Dogen Zenji’s Tenzo Kyokun – Instructions for the Zen Cook (p. 35).
Okumura Roshi discusses the importance of cooking the rice carefully and returning the kitchen utensils to their appropriate places. In this way, we can study dharma in our everyday lives—by attending to and valuing things without discriminating mind.
This talk was originally given at Sanshinji in Bloomington, IN on June 2, 2007.
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