June 2018 Newsletter

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June 2018 Newsletter

Summer, Temple Cooking, and J-Fest

Summer’s here. At Confluence Zen Center, our regular sitting schedule remains the same during the summer months, although we won’t have another one-day sitting until Sunday, Sept. 9th. Nevertheless, this year, summer is shaping up to be a busy time for us. That’s because this year we’ve been offered the chance to run a food booth at the Japanese Festival, which is held for three days over Labor Day weekend (Sept. 1-3) at the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Running a food booth at J-Fest presents us with big challenges. Planning, purchasing equipment, staffing the booth and more will be a test for the CZC sangha. Yet, this is also a big opportunity not only for us to become financially independent, but a way to put our practice into action. Several CZC members have run this kind of food booth when they were members of the Missouri Zen Center. Their experience will surely help. But we will need all the help we can get. For those who can work a minimum of a four-hour shift, you will receive a day-pass to J-Fest, good for all three days. More importantly, you will have the chance to provide important support for CZC as well as get to know the other sangha members better. I encourage all of you to consider helping us at some point over Labor Day weekend.

As one of the conditions for participating in J-Fest, we’ve been asked to prepare traditional Japanese food. To that end, we’ve decided to prepare chirashi-zushi (scattered sushi), inari-zushi (sushi rice in fried tofu shells), and gomoku-meshi (five-thing rice), plus we will serve two kinds of tea: green and mugi (barley). Each of these items are vegan and gluten-free, while at the same time being quite delicious on a hot, summer day.

One of the crafts associated with Japanese Zen is shojin ryori, sometimes translated into English as “temple cooking.” “Shojin” literally means “diligent effort”; “ryori” means “cooking.” Diligence (shojin) is one of the six paramitas – the Bodhisattva practices leading us to the other shore of liberation. In Japan, shojin ryori is usually associated with vegetarian food that is served in a Buddhist temple. While this may often be the case, the term “shojin” or “diligence” can also simply mean that if you’re cooking with fish or meat, it’s relatively easy to make a delicious meal.

Traditionally, Japanese Buddhist monks didn’t eat fish or meat which meant it took that much more effort to make a delicious vegetarian meal. Consequently, this form of cooking is known for fresh ingredients, attention to the seasons, and beautiful presentation. Making the effort to carefully wash and cut the vegetables and combine them skillfully is the way to make a beautiful, delicious meal in this way of cooking.

Please come help us prepare and serve this food at our J-Fest food booth. It will be hard work, but also fun and rewarding, I think. This will be an excellent opportunity to put zazen-in-movement into action.


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