Dreaming a Cookbook & a Pie: A Traditional Zen Story Retold

Dreaming a Cookbook & a Pie: A Traditional Zen Story Retold June 8, 2019


Dreaming a Cookbook & a Pie

A Zen Story retold by James Ishmael Ford

Once upon a time long ago and far away there was a follower of the intimate way named Mountain View.

He had studied with many teachers until he found the one with whom he could dream. After dreaming together for a time, Mountain View was sent to wander a little and meet and learn more of the three worlds.

After a particularly long walk into the wilderness, he settled for the night, and using a stone for a pillow he fell into a deep sleep. It was dreamless for a time.

At some moment Mountain View realized he had been transported to the heavenly realms. There he met with the Teacher to Come. They spoke of this and that, how the weather was affecting the crops where Mountain View’s people lived, the beauty of that mountain he’d been named for, and how they both loved the shores of the ancient ocean. Then the Teacher to Come invited Mountain View to sit with the community for its evening meditation period.

He was taken by the head monastic to the third seat. Mountain View tried to demure, too honored a place. But she insisted. So, he sat and, actually they all sat, and before the final bell struck, they were all enveloped in the great silence.

Then as the bell sounded ending the period of meditation the head monastic stood and announced in her clear voice, “the visitor in the third seat will now give the evening’s teaching.”

Instantly, Mountain View, stood, walked over to the gong stand, took a stick, and struck it.

Speaking straight into the room he said, “The deep thinker taught us, all that is, does not come from itself. All that is, does not come from another. All that is, is not the result of multiplication. All that is, does not come from emptiness. Affirmation, Negation, Affirmation and negation, and the negation of both affirmation and negation. A hundred different permutations follow these four propositions. Worlds birth, thrive, and die.”

He paused. The silence of the world. A breath. Nothing more.

And he continued, “True though they may be, our intimate way is as far from these things as cookbook and a pie.”

He paused. The silence of the world. A breath. Nothing more.

And he said into the silence, “Listen. Listen.”

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