It is the time of year where I live, Autumn, in which I like to make stews and soups. My grandmother was a stew-maker by necessity — putting whatever was available into the pot. My mother was a stew-maker by both necessity and later, by choice — enjoying the comfort of rich broth, typically spiced to bring just a bit of sweat to the forehead. I am a stew-maker, mostly by choice, and also by desire to both experiment and to honor my stew-making lineage.
My previous post (Only Now) is sitting with me as an ingredient for a combination that sounds like Zen Stew to me.
There is only now — a belief system that takes me away from worries of the past or of the future. It brings vitality to what is currently happening. I find it brings kindness also. We are all living in this moment of now, yes. It brings camaraderie.
There is only the present moment — another belief system, akin to the first. It’s something I find I know as much with my body as with my brain. My brain can guide me to realities of the present moment — the feel of my fingers on the keyboard, the sight of my coffee mug nearby, the taste of that coffee, the din of my computer screen, the sound of the heat / fan running to bring the temperature in my home to 68 degrees. My body — I think my heart and my belly in particular — feel a joy in the less-distracted way. It’s filling to me.
Well, continuing with Zen Stew (some today and some for further posts) is a teaching that I learned from the Bhuddist American Nun, Pema Chodron — this very moment is the perfect teacher. This brings it so alive to me. It welcomes more fluency of association as a practice that connects outer work with inner work. It welcomes orientation to continued learning, and curiosity, and playfulness.
- Eg., Ah, the keyboard. Mine is bluetooth communicating with my laptop. How wonderful that there is such simple technology. I wonder how I might get more simple, yet impactful.
- Eg., Ah, the sight of my coffee. It’s a mug that I purchased as a set of four (that came with 4 bowls, four small plates, four larger plates), 14 years ago. It was a time of re-creation for me, post divorce. I was treating myself to a basic matching set. I love the oversized mug. It holds at least a cup and a half. Oh, the beauty of bounty and the bounty of beauty. My mug reminds me of something so important — to live with appreciation for bounty.
- Eg., Ah, the heat. How wonderous to live with a thermostat that regulates the temperature of my home through combined availability of electricity and natural gas. It is not this way everywhere. I’m hearing more stories from Europe of cold in the winter with embargoed energy supply and distribution. This moment teaches me gratitude, compassion, empathy, appreciation.
And more. And more. And more.
This very moment is (can be) the perfect teacher. It invites a wideness of landscape. It invites detail in the moment. It can invite breadth. It can invite specificity. I find it invites tastiness and nourishment — of necessity, of choice, of experimenting.
Zen Stew — to be continued.