Fo Guang Shan (FGS) Temple of Toronto and Buddha’s Light International Association (BLIA) Toronto Chapter jointly organized an online Dharma Talk entitled “Reflection upon Cooking and the Chan Mind” on September 9. A total of 258 participants joined the Dharma Talk via YouTube and Zoom, hoping to learn the relationship between Chan and cooking.
Venerable Yung Kang is currently serving at FGS Temple of Florida. Before the workshop began, FGS Temple of Toronto’s Abbess Venerable Chueh Fan introduced Venerable Yung Kang and thanked the Abbess of FGS Temple of Florida, Venerable Yung Han for her assistance and support. In the Dharma talk, Venerable Yung Kang shared her valuable culinary experiences and how they have helped her as a Buddhist practitioner. In particular, her compassion and loving kindness towards her food and ingredients is the Chan mind that everyone should learn.
Venerable Yung Kang, with more than 30 years of preparing and cooking food experience, started by asking the audience if they like to cook. She revealed that she did not like cooking but since she became a monastic, she made the resolution to treat the kitchen as her temple, make friends with the pots and pans and other utensils, to communicate with the vegetables as well as to see the ingredients as her fellow practitioners.
Through insight and careful observation, she has learned to be equanimous when she cooks. She respects all the ingredients and understands that each vegetable and food requires different cooking times and temperatures to bring out their best qualities. Furthermore, as she contemplates that “sentient and non-sentient beings perfect the seeds of wisdom together”, she realized that all beings are equal. No one is superior to another. She cooks with her heart and sees it as part of her practice.
After the workshop, many members left words of gratitude on the message board to thank Venerable Yung Kang for her insightful sharing. They acquired the understanding that Chan mind can also be found when working in the kitchen and is very much a part of cultivation. The art of cooking is an interaction of one’s energy with the food and ingredients.