Yesterday I listened to this Sounds True interview with renowned chef and Soto Zen priest Edward Espe Brown. Brown founded the iconic San Francisco vegetarian restaurant Greens, and is the author of The Complete Tassajara Cookbook. His newest book, No Recipe: Cooking As Spiritual Practice, came out last year.

When Ed, two minutes into the conversation, laughs about how there’s no recipe for the spiritual journey, even though we tell ourselves “If I just do this, then it’s gonna turn out all right, right?!”, I liked him immediately.

You can always identify a longtime Buddhist practitioner by this gentle humor; the cultivated ability to not take oneself too seriously. There’s a tender coolness that comes from realizing there’s no essential self to begin with — just a collection of moments and relationships that breathe us into reality for a second or two, before they change again.

Ed says Zen practice is “like feeling your way along in the dark” (which sounds a whole lot like adulting, too). What I love about Zen is the way it employs the body, weaving practice into the daily routine — sweeping the floor, stirring the soup — so that everything, even cleaning the toilet, can become a spiritual practice.

Here’s to writing your own recipe. As Ed says, “It’s not that you shouldn’t use any recipes; it just means that finally, in the long run, it’s up to you to figure out how to live your life, and if nothing else, which recipe to use."

You can read more on mindfulness in the kitchen in Ed's wonderful March 2010 Lion's Roar piece, "Let Your Passion Cook: Mindful Living In The Kitchen."

Photo by Brooke Lark via WordSwap