The Buddha’s Begging Bowl

Buddhism, Culture, Diet, Education, ethics, Food, Health, Medicine

Photo on 20-5-20 at 8.44 pm

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The word ‘diet’ has several different meanings. The Collins Dictionary defines it to be ‘the food and drink one regularly consumes’. An alternative to that is the definition given in A Kind Diet, which states that diet is “a way of living, or thinking, a day’s journey.”

The time we spend on shopping for food, planning our meals, thinking about what it is we like and do not like to eat and what adheres to the medical profession’s recommendations surrounding the subject of diet is indeed considerable. We spend many of our waking hours working out this basic survival function and the money that goes towards keeping this human body of ours in good shape and healthy is enormous. Having thought about that, and briefly looked into some popular diet trends that are heavily advertised on local media, I thought to divert away from the consumerist approach to food for a moment and consider the Buddha’s teaching on non-attachment.

One symbol the Buddha employed as a means to convey his teaching on non-attachment was the use of an alms or begging bowl. Alms are charitable donations of money or goods to the poor or needy, yet the Buddha was neither of these things, so why bother with the use of a begging bowl? The alms bowl is considered to be symbol of the monastic life or life of a renunciate, and an aid to the life of the holy and those interested in seeking the truth. Once made from clay, which broke easily, the bowls were then forged with iron for added durability.

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Specifically, the alms bowl refers to the time in the Buddha’s life just before he attained enlightenment, when a young girl, named Sujata offered the Buddha a bowl of milk rice. Although the Buddha was practicing the austerity of eating only a little food at the time, he realized that to achieve the final stages of enlightenment, he would need to partake of the offering of rice from Sujata. After partaking of the meal, one tradition states that the Buddha then threw away the small amount of food left in that bowl to symbolize the Buddha’s complete non-attachment to material possessions. Another legend tells the story that the Buddha threw away the begging bowl itself into the river to symbolize the mind of non-attachment.

The point of all this is to question the validity, or lack thereof, of the attached state of mind itself. The mind of attachment is traditionally explained in Buddhist philosophy to be a mind that exaggerates the good qualities of an object and ignores it’s perhaps less apparent flaws. One apparent flaw in all objects of this world is their impermanent nature. Of the Four Seals of Buddhism, the first is that all compounded phenomena are suffering. The second is that all contaminated objects are impermanent.

What do we mean we use the word stained or contaminated to describe states of mind and actions?

Stained or contaminated actions are actions, emotions or thoughts polluted by selfish attachment, or by hatred, greed or ignorance. Such actions motivated by these negative states of mind always result in suffering.

When motivated by an attached state of mind, we cling onto material possessions, relationships or even ideas, and fail to recognize intransigent and impermanent nature of the object. That does not mean to say that we are not in need of food and other such things to ensure our survival and good health. It does indicate however, that having a more open and loving outlook towards other beings is more important. Given the violent nature of our human history and past, the gross lack of regard for the lives of others and destruction of the environment and other species, it is most definitely time to act to lighten our environmental footprint and reduce our grasping towards the status symbols of the wealthy. Instead of spending big bucks on expensive living and chasing the latest fad or diet trend, I suggest that there is much more happiness and satisfaction to be gained and maintained from living a more moderate and simple lifestyle with a focus more upon ensuring a happy state of mind. If we spent more time ensuring our mind itself is in a positive and peaceful state, through the practice of meditation, this would naturally lead to a more balanced and healthy lifestyle which would not only benefit the practitioner, but others on the planet as well.

I will leave you here with a totally different interpretation of the word diet, from one of the founders of Buddhist literature and Mahayana thought. The great Nagarjuna once wrote of the Five Diets being;

The Diet of Concentration

The Course Diet

The Inner Diet

The Diet of Touch and

The Diet of Volition.

The symbol of the Buddha with an alms bowl is an important director of peace, happiness and prosperity to keep in mind as we go about our daily habit of foraging for food, drink and clothing, if in the least to try to minimize our ever-expanding impact on this precious planet.

Copyright © Vanessa Anne Walsh 2020

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This is where you need Gina Mineheart

Buddhism, Culture, Diet, Education, Happiness, Health, Wisdom

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If you check out this recent photo, you’ll see I’m already perfect. Refer to these posts…here and here.

 

 

Cheers! And time for a whiskey, right mum?

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On second thoughts…

Buddhism, Culture, Diet, Education, Happiness, Health, Wisdom

I’ve had a few more thoughts on fitness, weight loss, working out and mind training. Once you are a Buddha you can think effectively. That’s a great benefit to aspiring to and engaging in the path to Buddhahood. All other goals are less meaningful, because everything below the state of a Buddha is pervaded in some way by suffering. You see, you are still stuck with the three types of suffering until you fully overcome the obstructions to omniscience. Inspired? Look at A Guide to the Bodhisattvas Way of Life by Shantideva for more wisdom discussing the path to Buddhahood.

So, maybe I’ll just get a new treadmill and stay in. There are so many benefits to staying in and guiding the mind thoughtfully and effectively.

Copyright © Vanessa Anne Walsh 2019

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Working out with mind training

Buddhism, Culture, Diet, Health, Sport

This year I had the big idea to lose some weight. I have been very busy with the mind training however. Now I think I am where I should be, so it’s time to start. I want to lose 25 kilos and I want to see if that is actually possible to do that with the Jenny Craig vegetarian food at my age of just 50 years.

We all need to exercise and train the mind to keep fit and healthy. Buddhist believe the only real state of health is Buddhahood. Once you have fully purified the body, speech and mind and attained the perfection of these qualities: generosity, morality, patience, enthusiastic perseverance, concentration and wisdom. Buddhas are fully transcendent, fully purified, fully all knowing, fully perfected, Awakened Ones.

I plan to be at the gym by about 8:30am and work out for a couple of hours a day doing a walk and about 20 laps of swimming each morning. How fast will the weight come off or be lost? I will blog about the experience and see how things progress. I don’t think I will suffer.

Copyright © Vanessa Anne Walsh 2019

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Do you need a drink of alcohol? Just to be specific!

Buddhism, Culture, Diet, Education, ethics, Health, Medicine

Lots of people try to follow discipline. Personally, I recommend following the vinaya. The only thing is however, you need to overcome neurosis and delusion.

You can wake up early, go to work all day, or maybe you just need to meditate and learn wisdom and compassion. I opt for the latter. The day can be long however, and by the late afternoon, most people, if not all, tire and wonder how to cope with the evening. I’m not a sloth. I practice good mindfulness, alertness and introspection, and I keep all my vows of moral discipline, but having some alcohol has proven to sooth the heart and keep my enthusiasm alive.

Why don’t you enjoy a glass of red wine or a gin and tonic or whiskey and diet coke. There is no harm there, as long as you don’t binge drink and over do it. One drink, two drinks, or even three drinks. What people need to learn is to relax and take life with a good healthy dose of renunciation, bodhicitta and correct view. How do you do that? Well you need to follow the wisdom of the wise, people like His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama of Tibet, Tenzin Gyatso and motivate yourself with bodhicitta, the wish to be a Buddha for the sake of all sentient beings.

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Do you really need Jenny Craig for weight loss? I think not!

Buddhism, Diet, Education, ethics, Food, Health

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I have a much better idea, having tried out Jenny Craig for a couple of weeks.

Breakfast

Tea and toast with jam

 

Lunch

Green salad with mixed lettuce, rocket and avocado with a good dressing

 

Snack

Vegetable or fruit juice and some laughing cow cheese

 

Dinner/Supper

Blueberries and raspberries with honey and natural yoghurt

 

This diet is low in kilojoules and perfect for the middle aged. This is my suggestion. Personally, I don’t really like eating meat, so lots of fruit and salad with some vegetable or fruit juice is really all I need and some tea.

Let’s see the weight come off with at least 40 minutes of walking done on the treadmill daily. My ten minutes, break, ten minutes routine to gently raise the heart rate without feeling too overdone with a massive aerobic workout.

This diet is sensible. Vegetarian, ethical and good for the body, speech and mind.

 

Copyright © Vanessa Anne Walsh 2019

 

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How to abandon the beached whale

Buddhism, Culture, Diet, Food, Happiness, Health

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Yes, I know it’s been said before. New Year, New Year’s resolution, how to diet, how to get that fit, young feeling, that Elle Macpherson trim taught and terrific look. What? At the age of fifty? Hmmm, well these days, people don’t exactly embrace ageing well. I’m not really here to bore you. I could say, yes, you bore me.

So, we’ve been through several periods. Molly Meldrum’s hum drum. Yes, but I’m funnier.

I’ve thought about Jenny. Hmmm, Jenny Craig. Jenny is nice. I don’t need to cook. I’ve cooked for the past thirty years. I’m a gourmet. There’s no pesto pasta like my pesto pasta. I’m not here to brag, but my Thai Red Curry and Rice is good too. Anyway, the problem is, I need to lose the kilos. I used to be nice and small, but then I got cooking. That’s smart, life is what it is. It needs meaning. Why not enjoy yourself a bit and cook a decent meal, instead to tearing around town like a chook without your head on behaving in the abominably meaningless and selfish way of an aetheist. Ya, I’m Buddhist and happy to be that way.

Here, there is lot’s to discuss. Really, how do you lose weight on Jenny Craig when it’s healthy and of course beneficial to have or to enjoy a whiskey? OH what, so now I’m damned? I don’t think so. So it’s 5000 kilojoules daily and I am advised by my doctor to drink whiskey. Outcome number one, my dress size probably won’t decrease that much. Still, I can ponder a bit more. Did you figure out the meaning of life? Well I did, it means you should and of course need to be happy. Now I’m not a hedonistic narcissist. And I’m not getting into an argument over that subject.

Did I get anywhere? Well, I don’t have as many dishes to wash, and apparently Jenny Craig is organised by a group of scientific dieticians and medics. So that’s something. My diet is good too, but a lot of work. The bad news is I need to lose weight. So, how much damage does to whiskey and diet coke do to one’s waist line as one attempts to drop one kilo or so a week. See, I’m going to document this, because some alcohol is good for the heart. Whiskey has around 300 kilojoules or so per glass. There’s no kilojoule count with the diet coke. I’ll probably have to move a bit however.

The modern era has some good things, but how to get over the incessant neuroticism? That’s something that I believe probably causes cancer. The weather this summer is good. Nice and warm, not too windy and I’m out for a break. Can I lose any weight however? What if I went for a swim and a walk? I know, it’s all been said and done before, but did you check out the stress levels attached with the dieters dream to lose weight? Miranda Kerr is young. Does she look after her children properly however, or is she always struggling away at the gym?

Stay tuned. This is jiminny crickets. Norm once wisely said, isn’t beer better?

 

 

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The Art of Cooking and the Science and Philosophy of Mind

Buddhism, Culture, Diet, ethics, Food, Health

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written by Vanessa Anne Walsh

 

A wisdom mother’s and practitioner of ethics guide to vegetarian food

 

 

 

Today I cooked Vegetable and Silken Tofu Teriyaki Stirfry with Black and White Rice.

This is a food journal designed to explain the Art of Cooking. In my opinion, most people get diet and exercise horribly incorrect and wrong. I have about twenty one or so vegetarian recipes. These recipes make up well balanced, ethical and nutritious meals.

To eat well, you need either rasberries and blueberries for breakfast with some natural yogurt and a dash of honey if you like, or some home made bread made with organic flour in a breadmaker, with some organic butter and jam and some loose leaf Ceylon black tea with full cream milk, or a slow juiced orange, mango, banana and passionfruit juice. That’s it. Food like that is nutritious and good for your body and mind. It’s not fattening, but it’s not crazy non-fat. It doesn’t cause diabetes, cancer, bowel or stomach complaint, heart disease, liver disease, or damage to one’s brain. None of this food does that. It is the healthiest range of recipes you can find. It’s kind on the environment and on oneself and others. It doesn’t harm other beings. It is not dependent upon the senseless slaughter of the beast or animal, fish or chicken, lamb, cow or pig.

Diet’s like the CSIRO diet are disgusting. Why? Because they are the polar opposite to this diet. There are many reasons the CSIRO Diet can be called unethical and bad for you. It is, because it relies upon killing other living beings.

This is how to prepare and cook the recipe

Teriyaki Vegetable and Silken Tofu Stirfry with Black or Wild Rice and White Basmati Rice.

 

Serves Three People.

 

I use all organic produce.

So you need a good organic food source and supplier, like Greenline Organic.

One organic onion, diced

½ punnet cherry tomatoes, cut in half

a Couple of tablespoons of Extra Virgin cold pressed olive oil, enough to cover the base of the wok.

One organic carrot, washed and sliced in quarters

210 mls Teriyaki Sauce

About twelve small or medium sized swiss brown mushrooms, washed and sliced

120grams snow peas, washed with the stalky end cut off

One bunch of broccolini, with the end cut off, washed and slicing the flowerets or top part of the broccolini. No need to use the base of the stem.

One packed of silken tofu, cut into small pieces.

To cook

Measure one cup of wild or black rice and one cup of white rice. Put the black rice with about two cups of water in one saucepan and one cup of white rice with two cups of water in another saucepan. Start cooking on a medium heat the black or wild rice which takes 30 minutes to cook. After twenty minutes, cook the white rice for ten minutes and strain then mix the two rices together and serve.

Whilst the black rice is cooking, add the olive oil to the wok with the diced onion and heat on a medium heat. Add the sliced cherry tomatoes and fry gently for a few minutes. Add the sliced carrot and stir and then add the teriyaki sauce. Add the mushrooms, snow peas and broccolini. Add the silken tofu and stir gently cooking unti the rice is ready with the lid of the wok on, Stir occasionally, but don’t overcook it. Lower the heat if necessary, to a gentle heat.

Serve with a ladle and some of the sauce. My suggestion is you spoon some of the rice mix onto a plate and then ladle the stir fry out and next to the rice mix with a little sauce from the bottom of the wok. Enjoy this very healthy and nutritious meal. You really only need one meal like this a day to maintain good energy and a healthy weight range.

Bless the food by reciting OM AH HUM three times before eating slowly.

Training the Heart

art, Buddhism, Diet, Health

Training the heart takes constant perseverance. For the next six months, as a starter to life’s good work plan, I am training in walking and meditation. The idea is to raise and lower the heart rate over a period of at least three hours, in ten minute sessions. Walking at a pace of just five kilometres per hour, I walk for ten minutes, then rest for ten minutes.

I am not exactly unfit, having pursued an intense session of meditation, however, it’s time to train in strength, perseverance and energy. Not too fast, and not too slow, the idea is to incorporate movement of a basic type into one’s lifestyle without madly over doing it or rushing about. These days the worldly take on too much. That’s not good for mind training really, unless you consider yourself to be a bit adept at action.

So, today, I am three sessions into eight sessions or ten on the treadmill. Meditation takes up the morning, and training in walking and strength, makes up the afternoon session. How much weight do you think I will lose? I am hoping to drop about ten to twelve kilos over two years. Slow steady weight loss, without overdoing it. I have suffered from a life threatening illness, so moderation is the key to a good set of outcomes.

Recovering from a difficult bout of crohns disease requires encouragement, enthusiasm and discipline.

 

Result

Well, today I walked 6.19kms in 75.37 minutes. This is the first time I have walked for a while, having been in intensive retreat for several years. I’m getting old. Don’t laugh. It’s not too bad and I am ready to try again tomorrow.

Say Goodbye to the Car

Buddhism, Culture, Diet, ethics, Food, Medicine

This is a Buddhist Blog designed to inform people of how to live well, economically, efficiently, environmentally friendly, green, healthy, vegetarian all throughout your life. Say goodbye to Vogue magazine, which never really gave good advice anyway did it? I can step out in style, with lovely colourful, well tailored clothing that’s creative, designed well and warm in winter, cool in summer, still look the best on the street and at home or at the Buddhist Centre. Can you do that for a good budget, observing modesty, not annoying the men into a state of sexual misconduct and samsaric misery?

I think the world should be interested in this wonderful journey. As I said, I am living green, environmentally consciously, locally, not tearing, raping the planet with an overuse of oil and hard to acquire energy. How to stay fit, relaxed, looking after the heart, the mind, the body, organising a healthy vegetarian diet whilst catching public transport, making good use of that very amazing infrastructure that our government and Metlink kindly create for the good use of public benefit.

Let’s just look at starting the day with a mind that appreciates very deeply the wonder of enjoying a fresh organic cup of ceylon tea with full cream milk. Then onto baking some fresh bread with organic, biodynamic stoneground wheat flour.Yum. How delicious to experience around lunch time toasty bread fresh from the oven, with organic butter and jarlesberg cheese. I’m not finished. Today I am eating spinach with sesame sauce – horenzo gomae, avocado sushi and miso soup. Great for the stomach and digestive system and not too heavy. Then time to walk a bit catching the tram to the local Buddhist Centre for a latte, a think and relax, a meditate and to pick up some lovely vegetable soup cooked at Cafe Bliss by gorgeous Tibetan friends. China, suck on that!

Copyright © Vanessa Anne Pollock 2017.