my junior year in college i took a course called "Chinese and Japanese Religious Traditions" with Dr. Oldstone-Moore, it was eye opening. i had already started down the path of simplicity, or at least what i thought at the time was simplicity. i had also always been really in-tune w. nature, i was into healthy food and my sister had introduced me to yoga principals and practices. but this class. this class blew my mind. i wasn't expecting much as this was my "required" R class for graduation and sure, i wasn't the only one thinking this class would be an easily filled requirement. much to my dismay, i fell in love. i have to be honest, i don't remember much of what we studied in this class, i just know it was taking me down a path.
then my senior year, when i had filled all of my requirements and didnt want to be a pud and not take ANY classes, i decided to sign up for another Oldstone-Moore class...this time around i tried "Buddhist Thoughts and Scriptures" the Wittenberg website states that this course is:
Seminar studying the teachings and practices of schools of the Buddhist tradition through pivotal scriptures. Sutras and other texts from Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism will be considered in their historical and cultural contexts, and within the framework of central themes of Buddhism. Requirements include class discussion and presentations, two exams, one short paper, and a term paper. Writing intensive. Every third year.
well, sure, thats what we did. i remember devouring the texts, relishing in writing my papers, but the most fulfilling part of this class was the monastic project.
whats that you ask? it was when we became practicing monks for three weeks. we altered our diets (no meat, no coffee, no processed sugars, no white flour/rice...ALL VEGGIES/ALL ORGANIC), we had group meditation, individual meditation and a yoga practice, we journal-ed everyday, we didn't speak unless spoken to all three Monday's and when we ate we practiced eating meditation. where we weren't supposed to do anything but talk during our meals. no books, no tv, no music, just chewing and talking if anyone else was there. we also had to put our forks down after every bite and really chew and engage with our food. (i lived with three of my best friends my senior year and we had weekly family meals.
[this picture is from sarah's wedding] we'd all cook together and eat together, it was one of the best things about my senior year and i was lucky that they all were patient with me during this monastic project and even, when we all ate, played along.) this project was awesome. it was really rooting and humbling. its established some of the ideas with which i live my life. its one of those experiences that i think back on all the time. its the little things from the project that i hold onto and try to practice now and then.
it even helped me, subconsciously (i think), come up with my tattoo.
its in Sanskrit and says 'Chinne mūle maivashakhā na patram' (no branches, no leaves in the absence of the roots.) this is a vedic medical expression that i discovered. and the tree is a bodhi tree, the tree that Buddha was enlightened under. the idea of a tree came to me in a rough/transitional patch. you have to be grounded, rooted to solid ground personally and professionally. you have to have a strong body physically and mentally. finally there is a constant reach towards something, be it a goal, a dream, whatever. and there's also the idea of a cycle, with the leaves, it begins all over again...
where was i going...amazement. i think this foundation (i'd call it that, i guess) in buddhism and breaking down to the simplest form of anything is what led me to this whole cooking endeavor. this wanting to touch what i eat and know where it came from. this sharing of a process and eating at a community table with everyone i know... i wanted to share with you, if you haven't found it already, something that i adore. i can easily say - i effing LOVE this site: food. curated. (www.foodcurated.com) liza basically interviews local foodies, chefs, farmers, fisherman, bee keepers, etc. its pretty amazing. i want you to know about it because this is the sort of thing thats fueling me and inspiring me right now. i love love love it. and there are some really good and innovative ideas. theres all this talk about rooftop farms and backyard farms, its awesome. i think i sense something i may be looking into doing in LA...here we go new chapter.
what gets you going right now? is there someone, some place you go on a regular basis to infuse your life?