Archive for the 'cooking' Category

Taking something back, or sharing?

March 19, 2014

There’s this spiritual story about an adolescent who really feels strongly that a grown man has stolen from her her jewels.  He feels equally convinced she has robbed him of something equally valuable, namely, something required to maintain his stature and status in the community.

So how to restore equilibrium?

There’s an attempt, which doesn’t succeed, in which he returns something and she returns something, but they both accuse the other of returning a false approximation of what was stolen.

There are attempts at partial returns, there are empty promises, there are claims nothing was stolen — lots of adversarial attempts to restore without actually completely participating.

In the meantime, they are each using some “ill-gotten gain” from the other to try to maintain themselves.  They each end up in situations in which they are ill-equipped in some way, and this does not serve the greater good, either.

A lot of the trouble reconciling was probably a trust issue — “If I give to you, will you really give to me or will it just be throwing good money after bad, as they say?”

So here’s how it got resolved:  they both were agreeable with sharing with a disinterested third party, and through something like the mathematical transitive principle or something like a concept of mixing cooking ingredients, eventually they both ended up with a portion of what they felt they were missing.  What they shared with the intermediary included the “stolen good,” and through sharing with the intermediary, they had access again to what they considered the good stolen by the other.

Footnote:  disinterested third party did not have an easy time of it, as they were often treated as if they were actually the other person in the dispute.


June 12, 2013

I don’t see how people who don’t see ourselves as reincarnated beings deal with the fact that some of us appear to “get” spiritual teachings in a fundamental way, and shift their consciousness as a result, while others merely process the information through their intellects and superficial behaviors.  For me the explanation is that some of us have already been through other stages in previous lives and that these stages have made us ready for a next step.

Which brings me to a further point:  some teachings produce damaging results in people who have not yet gone through some of the previous stages.

I don’t think compassion is awakened through learning at the feet of a teacher.  If the teacher’s compassion seemed to be awakened through such an experience, or if the teacher’s compassion seemed to be awakened through the practice of techniques, such as prayer and contemplation, then I suspect the teacher already had had their heart broken open (through difficult experiences?) in a previous lifetime.

I know that what I “know” I myself didn’t learn all during this lifetime.  I am quite sure it is the same for others, whether or not they recognize it.  We create all kinds of unfortunate spiritual knots in people, and in the world, when we encourage them to take steps that are not the next ones for them.  And in doing this, we are also enabling, if not encouraging, people to avoid some of the more difficult stages of spiritual development, I think.  You gotta break a few eggs to make that omelette at some stage of the process.  Nobody can experience that brokenness for us, and if we do try to experience it vicariously, we will not undergo the changes necessary in ourselves for subsequent steps.

It’s my personal belief, no offense intended, that some spiritual and religious teachers and leaders throughout history have been impatient with this aspect of spiritual development and the limits of teaching.  And I think some of this group ended up overwhelmed themselves by their frustration.  We can only do so much.  It’s a group project — a BIG group project — over time and across geography.  We do our piece and then we cede the stage.  The concept of reincarnation I find helpful for understanding and accepting this.  If there are other ways to do this, great, but I am concerned with worldviews that facilitate a sense that it can all be done here and now, through one person, through a set of teachings.

It’s not about you

October 24, 2012

That’s one of my favorite ways to help untangle a problem:  to choose, in a sense, not to take whatever is going on personally.  If I actually see it as the result, at its origins, of impersonal forces happening to come together in a certain way, the strands slide apart, like spaghetti after you add the butter or oil in the bowl after it’s cooked.  A different variation of “spacer” from the space I was thinking of in my previous post.  There the spacer was the kind that occurs when each party has their expectations met (in the case treated in the post, even when the expectations conflict).  In the case in this post, instead of sating an attachment (using extraneous resources), the expectation is denatured by avoiding the attachment by means of minimizing the involvement of the ego.

“Mystic Pizza”

September 2, 2012

Jordan had this at a friend’s house and liked it enough to ask me to look for it at Trader Joe’s next time I went.  It wasn’t there, but he brought home two from Roche Bros. this morning, after visiting the same friend again.

Interesting that there was a Roche Bros. market at that shopping plaza we stopped at to look for a reading pillow the other day, the one I felt prompted to notice at the traffic light.

I guess you never know when you’re actually in the right place but looking for the wrong thing, near what you want but don’t realize it — my experience is that things come into focus through repeated iterations of a pattern.

Unfortunately Jordan doesn’t want to heat the pizza yet — I’m a little hungry and impatient to taste it.

A Great Salt Lake

August 12, 2012

I’ve been reading a lot about Mormonism and Utah because of Romney’s candidacy for the presidency and the treatment of that in the media, including Ross Douthat’s NYTimes column today and Michael Gerson’s similar call Friday evening on the PBS NewsHour for Romney to discuss his faith.

So when I found myself just now shaking salt into a large pot of water to make spaghetti, I had to laugh at myself for creating my own great salt lake.  I’m not sure it counts as synchronicity, but I’m enjoying it regardless, including the pastafarian connection (not to mention the pasta itself).

Getting unstuck

June 3, 2012

I have felt myself stuck on an a comparison between art and mysticism in which art is an inferior medium, artists are missing the understanding of their message, and people enjoying the art are getting too caught up in something that provides pleasure but does not lead to where we need to go.

I think I wrote about how after Tony networked my computers and printers together I could see things differently.

It occurred to me that my getting stuck on a bad attitude toward art needs to be examined in light of art’s role in one of those very large spiritual experiences in my life.  It occurred while I was watching a concert on PBS.  Why would I denigrate something that had been so instrumental in that sort of Road to Damascus experience?

I can see that for me it was a means to, if not an end, then at least a further stage, that the art led to something I found more important and profound, and that that is different from celebrating art in and of itself, art for its own sake.  I can also see that art for its own sake is appropriate or helpful for some people.  I can see as well that since that experience, art has sometimes provided me with cues and help as I move along a path that is more mysticism than art.

What interests me here is my reaction to the art piece — it certainly facilitated, even birthed my experience, and yet something in me wants to disavow it.  I don’t really know why.  I don’t think it’s because I can’t do what artists do, I think it’s more because I think artists are stuck themselves and shouldn’t be.  Maybe I think more people would develop their mystical selves if artists didn’t sell them on art for art’s sake alone.  I’m not sure.

And I am not at saying my attitudes are helpful or admirable or “correct” in any way.  But I lay them out because I wonder whether other people do the same sort of thing in other contexts.  Perhaps atheists who denigrate religion or conservatives who reject liberalism or scientists who put down the humanities — perhaps these people too would not have reached their own station in understanding and affiliation without the help of the very thing they are rejecting.

I think these issues can fade into unimportance if we can find a place in our worldview for the discipline or field or belief system that makes us uncomfortable, find a way to integrate it in some way instead of excluding it.  I’m thinking that if we stop seeing opposition and dualism, and fold together the dry ingredients with the wet, then we lose the need to pronounce relative judgments on them, they are all needed for our coherent belief system.  Maybe I just need to bake some cookies.



February 26, 2012

Last week, when I wrote a post about finding an orange on the way home after having exclaimed that I need oranges, not just apples (a metaphor for needing things within in a relationship that I wasn’t getting), I was aware that plenty of people would label that as coincidence, as a random event that I happened to notice for my own reasons.

I am wondering, though, how other people might explain my experience today with my toast.

I was toasting a small piece of sweet Greek bread from the end of a loaf, and I was aware when I put it up that it might burn if I left it in for too long.  But I went ahead and started reading something on the computer across the room, with my back and side towards the toaster oven.  However many clicks and screens later, it suddenly occurred to me to check the toast, and I abruptly left what I was reading and walked over to the counter, and when I opened the door (it was still in the midst of the toasting cycle), I discovered the toast was just at the point I like.

I don’t know what the mechanism is for that.  And it doesn’t, I admit, always happen this way: Friday morning, I think it was, I burned my breakfast while I was watching Jesse’s play “Cry Out” on YouTube.  Then I was too engrossed to hear, I suppose.  Maybe that’s what the combination of these toasting events illustrates, how detachment allows a person to listen.

Telling stories

December 11, 2011

I have spent a lot of time working on unraveling somebody’s stories, including how they construct narratives in order to process the world.  That’s what we do, I think, in this world, take pieces of stuff and form larger pictures.  If we try to make them cohere in a certain way, including with cause and effect, it’s more like our every-day narratives of our lives.  If it’s more like juxtaposed pieces placed near one another, sometimes overlapping, etc., it’s more like what we call collage, a type of art, to our way of thinking.

There is a tendency to use the narrative and our models of narratives more generally to guide our (future) behavior:  where does this storyline seem to be going and how can I influence it? is what seems to be the process many people use.   That stopped working for me a long time ago, and at some point between being practical about it (this just isn’t working) and willingness (although perhaps that willingness was induced through coercion or deceit) to try something else instead, I think I stopped desiring it to.

Which, on the one hand, has led to some interesting experiences, but, on the other hand, is kind of difficult to explain to other people, especially when people say, “Well, now that you have developed these skills, why don’t you apply them in this, that, or the other particular way?”

About those interesting experiences: here’s an example from last week.  I kind of heard at the previous week’s Friday night services that there would be a potluck supper after services the following week.  Maybe because they said that bringing food was voluntary, I forgot all about it.  Thursday night Jordan and I went food shopping, and I happened to buy the makings for coleslaw, which I don’t usually do.  The next day, late in the morning I find myself putting it together, and, even more unusual, throwing in things like cut up apples, walnut pieces, and dried cranberries.  I think I am being a good hausfrau and using up stuff in the cupboard and fridge.  A little later I found myself looking at an email from the congregation, with a view to forwarding it to someone else, and behold, it mentions the potluck (to welcome the LGBTQ community) and I start thinking, “I really should bring something, what should I do?” And then I realize I can bring the coleslaw.

So, it’s kind of nice to have something other than my intellectually accessible memory keeping track of what I need to do, and I’ve gotten more of this support since I got caught up in spiritual pursuits.  But being plugged in doesn’t seem to be something that I can then decide to use for my own purposes, or anyone else’s, just because it looks like it would be neat to couple this sort of support with some particular human agenda or other.  It seems to allow me to see what goes on in my life as pieces of collage, as well as a story unfolding in a particular direction.  But that collage perspective is even less about pointing me towards a particular goal.  In the past, I have figured out what some chapter in my life seems to have been about, only after the fact, in retrospect.  Maybe here, too, I will need to have started doing before I will understand what it is and why.

“Nothing to do”

November 22, 2011

I read in a group email last week, “Re whether poetry matters, remember Thoreau’s “A poet is someone who, having nothing to do, finds something.”

I read this, and although I’m not a poet and I don’t find myself have nothing to do in terms of tasks and responsibilities, I do in a way have a dearth of things to do in terms of my own focus, and I suspect that what I do has more in common with what poets do than with the other callings with which it is usually grouped.

This quotation in its context reminds me that doing something that “matters” is probably where I’m getting hung up in deciding where to focus when I do have the chance to focus on something I choose.  The idea of finding a “something” in a context of “nothing” puts into perspective the significance of the “something” for me — the “something” is (just) something to do.

So, I’m thinking of cooking more.

This may not be worthy of a blog post, but it may help me keep my focus to put it up in one.