It’s quite common, during this ‘entitled’ era, when it’s common practice in our culture to strive for more, to compare oneself with others, to feel generally dissatisfied and lacking. I feel particularly, for teenagers (I have four teenaged granddaughters) who are bombarded by photos of physical perfection (probably Photoshopped), luxurious belongings, wonderful activities where everyone else appears to be having a glamorous and fun-filled life - all high and impossible standards to which they feel under pressure to aspire. Leading to increased happiness? I think not. Fortunately my granddaughters are growing beyond the chimera and have grounding parents who instil and encourage other activities, other more wholesome virtues.
Life, for a teenager, has always been challenging, what with hormones, exam pressure, changing roles and relationships and living conditions beckoning, but ‘in my day’ it was probably simpler. The just post-war generation, we lived through rationing, ate what we were given, had hand-me-down clothes or made our own and were instilled with more of a sense of being grateful for what we did have - being scolded if we didn’t.
But do we always remember to be grateful for what we do have? Probably not. There’s so much that we take for granted. And yet, it’s now being recognised, gratitude is good for our mental and physical health, as well as being a realistic and wholesome practice to adopt. So what might we be overlooking? Perhaps the simple, everyday, that we, in 2016, hardly even think about.
Take breakfast (if you do). Our ancestors and people in other parts of the world, even our own, would be amazed at the abundance. Go to any supermarket and look at the long aisle of breakfast cereals. Muesli and granola were barely heard of 50 years ago, let alone all the current varieties and other options. Then there are the different sorts of dairy and non-dairy milks, yoghurts, types of fruit from around the world, breads, spreads…… All grown, farmed, produced, packaged, transported, available for our consumption with minimal effort from us. It’s said that up to 170 people have been involved in our breakfast. Sure, we earned the money to pay for it and we went to the shop to buy it but our personal input is dwarfed by the input of so many others. And that’s before we look at the provenance of the bowl, the cutlery, the table, the building we are in. We are living on a beautiful planet, with mineral resources, fertile soil, sufficient rain and sunshine, and here is that simple bowl of cereal. Seeds - how wonderful are they? So much potential contained in such a tiny space. And look at the diversity - how did that come about? In my bowl are oats and blueberries and strawberries. Sitting at my breakfast table I can see, through the window, flag irises in the pond, yellow and orange poppies, full blown peonies, cornflowers, delicate ‘London Pride’, rowan and red and green acers, tall trees beyond my fence in the country park - all of which, like the contents of my bowl, started life as tiny seeds. Miraculous!
We live on the basis of ‘much suffering, much hard work, much joy’ and many, many miracles. Namo Amida Bu, Namo Amida Bu, thank you, thank you.
In Buddhist psychology, we classify mental maladaptation into the so called three poisons of greed, hate and delusion. This is a rough and ready idea since in most cases there is some mixture and the cut off points are not that clear. Nonetheless, it can be a useful way of thinking.
Basic Life Tendencies
This is because it corresponds to a very basic, primitive level of life. If one thinks of a very simple creature - an amoeba, say - this little blob of life moves along and encounters things which it then has to respond to or not. Some things it envelops and absorbs - food - some things it shrinks from in a reaction of fear and some things it has a confused response to.
So, at the most primitive level, life has these three tendencies. We could say that they are what make life interesting for an amoeba and in so many millions of years we have not progressed very far. We just have a more sophisticated way of being the same.
Actually, the term delusion can have a broad and a narrow meaning. In a broad sense, all three poisons are forms of delusion, but in the narrow sense of delusion as distinct from greed and hate, mostly has to do with a confused sense of identity. It is more of less synonymous with conceit. Conceit may be agrandising - a deep belief that one is better than anybody else - or denigratory - that one is worse - or, commonly wild fluctuation between the two. At the core of this is a sense that self-worth matters. From a Buddhist point of view, the healthy position is not one in which a person experiences positive self-worth all the time, but one in which the person stops thinking about self because it does not matter so much.
I think you can see that these two forms - agrandising and denigratory - are themselves forms of greed and hate respectively, so we can say that there are only two poisons - greed and hate, but that delusion in the narrow and usual sense refers when these conditions are directed toward the self rather than toward the external world. Delusion involves more deception and secrecy. Thus, greed and hate are actually less serious conditions than delusion, at least in the sense of being less complicated, closer to the basic life force of amoebic existence, and more on the surface whereas delusion is more deeply hidden.
As an aid in my 'therapeutic eating regime*', Isa Chandra Moskowitz's 'Appetite For Reduction' is a great resource. Today I made Masala Baked Tofu, which is exceedingly scrumptious - and there's more for tomorrow. I served it with steamed kohlrabi and just-wilted spinach and seasoned those two with the gomasio I made last night.
* On medical advice - strong medical advice - since 24th February I have been working on reducing my weight, BMI, cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, blood pressure. No idea how long I'll be around, of course, but this will help my health. I've discovered that, though this was masked by being such a mainstay of my diet previously, I am much better for avoiding bread, porridge, couscous, rice, potato. I have a high-protein & nutrient brakfast shake and my energy is higher, brain somewhat less befuddled. I'm using the MyNetDiary app (thanks to my sister for the advice and the smaller plate!) and combining this with an extremely healthy version of the 5:2. Weighing and entering everything I eat is a bit time-consuming but the results are astonishing and encouraging.
'first chop an onion' -
our traditional prologue
while wondering what the vegetables
would like to be.
discarding ginger skins
and chopping fine
with dangerous dimple-handled steel -
'firm, juicy, versatile'
the label promises
as they soften and release their scent
in green italian oil
and my new discoveries -
sharp henna-red israeli sumac,
sour iranian lime,
za'atar from palestinian hillsides
and the more prosaic -
water and rich brown marmite
next, scrubbing off claggy yorkshire mud
from yellow potatoes, then diced,
orange carrots, sliced,
sand-coloured parsnips, in slender match sticks -
all added, bubbling
with fine leaf-green strips of cabbage
to be added last
nothing of our meal has leapt and bounded
save tiny sesame as it toasted
but all looked upward to the sun
or tuberous, fattened in secret
unseen, enclosed in dark rich earth
East and West, Buddhists have often failed to recognise the importance of a vegetarian or vegan diet as a real contribution to the reduction of suffering for animals, birds and fish. Many people assume Buddhists are vegetarian as part of their philosophy of kindness and compassion for all creatures. Sadly, this is far from the truth.
Buddhists, who are vegetarian or vegan, are a small minority including monks and nuns. There is certainly much emphasis in the Buddhist world of respect and kindness for all sentient beings but there has been neglect of this ethic in terms of diet. There are voices in the Theravada, Tibetan Mahayana and Zen tradition, as well as in the West, campaigning for people to adopt a vegetarian or vegan diet out of compassion for all creatures.
Why become a vegetarian or vegan
MAY ALL BEINGS LIVE IN PEACE AND HARMONY
I've been asked what I put in it.....here are the ingredients though I can't say what the quantities are:
Dried apricots (cut into small pieces)
Sesame seeds - toasted
Pumpkin seeds - toasted
Sunflower seeds - toasted
I mix up enough for a couple of weeks. To eat I add orange juice, stewed dates, figs and apple - or pear, depends what's in the veggie box (I stew enough for 4 or 5 days and keep in the fridge, heating up in a saucepan to put on the muesli), Greek yoghurt and ground flax seeds.
I'm sensing slight restlessness. What's going on here? My taste buds are requesting, more urgently now, that I go down to the kitchen. There, in the small fridge, is a chunky jar that sounds like a maraca when I pick it up. Filled with gorgeous cashews that I roasted with a tiny sprinkling of olive oil and liberal dousings of tamari. The darker they are, the more delicious.
Have a look at these.:
Maija writes: I am a 26-year old journalist/author/foodie from Finland, though I recently moved to Amsterdam. I've been a vegetarian since 1999 and I mostly cook and bake vegan. I set up the Finnish version of this page back in 2002 or 2003. The reason why there aren't more recipes is that I mostly cook "whatever there happens be in the fridge" (or on sale, since my budget is very limited). Vegetables tend to be quite expensive here. I also often use recipes from cookbooks or Indian recipes from the web, and I try to keep this page as more than just a copy-paste archive. Most of the recipes I've created myself, some originate from cookbooks, websites or magazines but have been adapted. All of them are vegan if you use a plant-based milk. Some of the baking recipes and most of the other recipes are gluten-free or can be made gluten-free.
You can find more of my food photography here.
My food blog Vegventures has started its journey around the world, trying out vegan(ized) foods from all different cuisines of the world.
24th November 2010 Added Brussels bombs and noysters
2nd June 2010 Added saag tofu and tzatziki potato salad.
12th February 2010 Added date tamarind chutney.
a sprinkle of chili, cayenne or paprika
some spices (see the note below)
a little oil
a little sugar, brown sugar, maple syrup or agave syrup
salt, soy sauce or a vegetable bouillon cube
You can use almost any spices here. Herbs like thyme, tarragon, basil, mint, chervil, lovage and chives work well, or you could use some Indian-inspired spices like coriander, cilantro, garam masala, ginger, nutmeg and cumin - or a mixture of these two. I bet lemongrass would also work marvellously.
Cut the carrot into pieces and chop the onion and garlic. Cook them in a small amount of liquid until a bit mushy (if using a bouillon cube, add it into the liquid, and dried spices can be added as well). Puree with a blender or food processor. Add the oil, lemon juice, spices and salt to taste, as well as liquid if needed. Some soy/rice/almond milk, soy cream or coconut milk/cream/powder can also be added, but is by no means necessary. You can even puree in (silken) tofu or cashew nuts for a more creamy and nutritious dish. Serve over pasta.
Sweet potatoes also work well in this dish.