Meditation in Action: Cooking 2
Developing a loving intention even when cooking for ourselves
Love is a great way to make our cooking meaningful, as discussed in the last post. But how can we still employ the mind of love when we are just cooking for ourself, even though we don’t get the obvious satisfaction of nourishing someone else? Through Buddhist meditation and mindfulness even cooking for our self can become a deeply loving and meaningful act.
Most of us can easily feel that cooking for ourself is a waste of time, especially when we could easily pick up a Snarf’s or get something delivered. We are only feeding ourself, so what’s the point? How can we possibly turn this self-focused activity into something that benefits our world?
None of us lives in a bubble. Though we may not notice this very often, our life is defined by connection with others, not just with our immediately family, but also our friends, neighbors, and strangers alike. “We cannot exist without others, and they in turn are affected by everything we do,” writes my teacher the Buddhist meditation master Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. (How to Transform Your Life, free ebook: https://howtotyl.com/)
From this point of view, we can see the value of taking care of ourself for the benefit of others. Each of us is in the position of being able to benefit so many other living beings, through giving love, protection, material and non-material support, and good advice. Even building a small “Bug Hotel” in your garden provides protected abodes for hundreds of little insects. Others are affected by everything we do.
If we start to see our life as one huge opportunity to benefit others, then anything we do that supports our ability to help others – including keeping our body healthy by cooking ourselves a nutritious meal – also contributes to this altruistic aim. So it follows that we can be cooking a nourishing meal for ourself with a mind of love, wishing to be healthy enough to bring as much benefit as possible to our world.
When our body and mind become tools for helping others, we can view anything we do to stay healthy as an act of love. When firefighters exercise, they know the strength they are building in their body will help them protect people and animals from the dangers of fire. In the same way our good health will allow us to accomplish many things for others, such as taking care of a sick friend, coaching a little league team, teaching someone how to read, or helping your community find happiness through teaching meditation.
The less we are consumed solely by our own wishes, and the more we make our life about helping others, the more meaningful our life becomes, and even seemingly mundane tasks we must perform will become imbued with this meaning. How great would it be to take the first delicious bite of that casserole we made and know that all the effort that went into making it and all the enjoyment of eating it would ultimately wind up benefiting everyone we know? All we need to do is meditate on our desire to benefit others and stay mindful of this good-hearted wish as we are cooking and eating. It’s that simple.
Photo courtesy of Maburiz Khan on Reshot.