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Zen Food ~ Zen Drink

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Re: Zen Food ~ Zen Drink

Postby Nonin on Mon Apr 06, 2015 11:57 pm

In American Soto Zen temples and monasteries, we eat a vegetarian diet, and the kitchen staff prepares it. In Japanese Soto Zen temples and monasteries, they do the same, but if meat or fish is donated, it will be served, and those who wish to eat it will do so. It that way, it doesn't go to waste. Sometimes, practitioners are advised medically to eat a lot of heavy protein, and some of us do in the practice place. If a person has allergic reactions to some types of foods, they won't be required to eat it.

Personally, outside of the temple, I'll eat whatever doesn't eat me first.

Hands palm-to-palm,

Nonin
Soto Zen Buddhist Priest. Transmitted Dharma Heir of Dainin Katagiri Roshi.
Abbot and Head Teacher, Nebraska Zen Center / Heartland Temple, Omaha, Nebraska, USA
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Re: Zen Food ~ Zen Drink

Postby Meido on Tue Apr 07, 2015 4:26 am

No across-the-board recommendations to offer, since everyone potentially has different requirements, as Nonin suggests. But shojin riori - temple cuisine - is well-developed in many places. Some temples have specific recipes or traditions, for example kenchin-jiru (a vegetable soup) which supposedly originated at Kencho-ji in Kyoto, or the more Chinese-style cuisine at Manpaku-ji (the Obaku-shu H.Q temple).

Notable features of these cuisines are that they are all vegetarian; all display elements of "poverty" cooking, i.e. ways to stretch and make palatable limited resources; and finally, a "food as medicine" view is revealed by the manner in which dishes adapt to the body's changing needs (for example heavier/oily dishes in winter, the taking of baito - an alkalizing medicinal "tea" made from pickled plum - first thing in the morning, and so on).

I'm certain many centuries of dietary and medicinal custom originally informed a lot of this. Certainly recommendations for specific situations do exist. Maybe some places have things like that written down, but in my experience they are just handed down orally from seniors to juniors in response to situations that arise. For example...

1. Meat, especially red meat, increases muscle stiffness and pain.
2. Energetic disorders can sometimes be helped by oily/heavy foods, or a little alcohol (warm sake, for example)
3. Less rice at the afternoon meal is best if you want to stay awake (and for the cook, good not to use solely white rice for the same reason...people crash).
4. Constipated? Eat shitake.

Etc.

An interesting undertaking is to adapt these kinds of traditional cuisines to our environments here. At our place in WI, we have a ton of burdock (basically, similar to Japanese gobo) as well as something that is basically mitsuba. We have tons of soy, carrots, cabbage, etc. available here. So there are crossovers like that. But then, what to do with corn? Just mixing stuff together can be problematic, so it will take some time to sort out in order not to lose the harmonious functioning - and good taste - of the original cuisine.

~ Meido
The Rinzai Zen Way: A Guide to Practice
Korinji monastery [臨済宗 • 祖的山光林禅寺]: http://www.korinji.org
Madison Rinzai Zen Community/Ryugen-ji [機山龍源寺]: http://www.madisonrinzaizen.org
The Rinzai Zen Community: http://www.rinzaizen.org
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Re: Zen Food ~ Zen Drink

Postby Nonin on Tue Apr 07, 2015 9:19 pm

What Huifeng stated was his own personal diet. At their Zen Buddhist practice places or in their personal lives, whether practitioners drink coffee or tea or neither is a matter of personal choice.

Hands palm-to-palm,

Nonin
Soto Zen Buddhist Priest. Transmitted Dharma Heir of Dainin Katagiri Roshi.
Abbot and Head Teacher, Nebraska Zen Center / Heartland Temple, Omaha, Nebraska, USA
http://www.prairiewindzen.org
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Re: Zen Food ~ Zen Drink

Postby Guo Gu on Mon Apr 27, 2015 5:05 am

ani,

in chinese monasteries the diet is vegetarian. no one would donate meat or fish (or alcohol). in fact they are not allowed on temple grounds. the principle is a balanced diet if the monastery can afford it. some temples are quite poor, in which case, whatever they plant or have will be used.

as for drinks, i agree with nonin that i think huifeng was just referring to his own personal preference. tea, coffee, whatever. but pu-er tea is expensive.... if all monks in the monastery drink that on a regular basis, then that monastery is spoiled!

the principle is moderation and availability: nonattachment. there's no formula. to have one is probably an attachment.

be well,
guo gu
Founder and teacher of Tallahassee Chan Center of the Dharma Drum Lineage of Chan Buddhism
http://www.tallahasseechan.org/
Received inka from Master Sheng Yen (1930-2009) in 1995
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Re: Zen Food ~ Zen Drink

Postby Judy Roitman on Sun May 03, 2015 3:41 am

Dear Anirukta,

Why are you asking? As you can tell from the responses you have gotten already, there is no Zen diet, no Zen food recommendations other than a strong tendency towards vegetarian food within Zen centers, and a tendency for many --- but far from all --- practitioners to be personally vegetarian. Back in the 1970's/1980's there was a misperception that the macrobiotic diet had something to do with Zen, but it doesn't. My teacher was Korean so back in the early days every meal during retreats, including breakfast, included kim chee and gochichang (spicy soy bean paste). This had nothing to do with Zen and everything to do with Korea. As the centers matured, the food served became more Americanized (kim chee and gochichang pretty much disappeared, more's the pity). As America has become more open to diversity, the food can also be quite diverse --- at a recent retreat in Cambridge we were served authentic Indian cuisine at one meal because the cook's family was from India and that's how he'd learned to cook. Why not?

Also, while it's helpful to be healthy, Zen teachings themselves are not focused on maximizing our health, energy levels, physical fitness, etc. The suggestions you will find on this forum about helping with body problems are simply things that the writers have found useful, but they are not intrinsic to Zen teaching.

I hope you enjoy everything you eat and drink!

Best,

Judy
Judy Roitman (Zen Master Bon Hae), Kansas Zen Center, Kwan Um School of Zen
www.kansaszencenter.org
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