Phase 1, Step 2 (exploration): The Cook

2. The Cook
The Cook who fed the man who became the Buddha


According to the Buddhists texts Siddhartha Gautama, hoping to reach enlightenment spent 6 years undergoing extreme deprivations, subsisting on one grain of rice a week. He became so emaciated that the skin of his belly was touching his spine. One day he lost consciousness and his companions thought he was dead. But he regained consciousness and realized that extreme asceticism was meaningless.
Now at that time there lived a young woman named Sujata. In reaching maturity she had made a prayer: “If I get a good husband and give birth to a child, I will make an offering of a hundred thousand pieces of money.” Her prayer was answered. So, to prepare for this offering, she first pastured a thousand cows and fed their milk to five hundred cows, then fed the milk of these cows to 250, and so on down to feeding the milk of 16 cows to 8. This was to increase the thickness, and sweetness of the milk. She, then, cooked the milk with rice, while four guardian angels stood guard over the fireplace. She finally put the rice cake in a gold dish worth the sum of money she had promised to give away. She found the future Buddha at the foot of a tree, who was waiting for the time to go begging for food. The great being looked at her and she perceived he was a holy man. She offered him the dish saying “May your wishes prosper like my own” and departed, not caring for her golden dish. The future Buddha went to the river bank. After bathing, he ate the cake and disregarded the dish. It was his only meal for the seven weeks he stayed under the tree where he attained enlightenment. (summarized and adapted from the introduction to the Jakata in Warren’s book, Everyman’s life of the Buddha.)

For many women and men, cooking can be a spiritual practice

c Niderlander | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images photo: Niderlander | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

Cooking requires an opening of the senses first. We pay attention to the colors, to the smells, the texture of the food. It is an opening of our heart. We cook thinking about the pleasure or just the satisfaction of those who will eat our food. We find the joy of finding ourselves hungry and then satiated. It is an affirmation of our self-worth and a thankful prayer to the Divine Love and Power to feed us. We pay heavily for our busy lives. We give the power to unscrupulous companies to feed us with high amounts of sugar, salt and many additives to preserve the food on the shelf.
The only question you have to ask yourself this week, is” Are you ready to cook for yourself, and prepare all the food you eat, with a few exceptions?” I don’t think it is possible to lose weight, if we are not in charge. Before we look at what kind of food we want to eat, we must have the power to make decisions. Cooking does not have to take much time. For most of us, who have jobs, children –and no personal cook like Oprah or Jennifer Aniston- the only alternative to eating already prepared food is to learn to prepare a simple and healthy meal in 20 minutes. As I was mentioning last week cooking once a week, for the whole week is also a possibility. We will look more deeply at cooking in step 5 (see the post “A time for exploration” for the different steps) and you will have more chances to succeed in losing weight and maintaining your weight loss for years if you don’t make drastic changes for a few weeks. You need time to adjust: see post “A no-shame, no blame approach”).

cook with pot  ©Natie | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

So for now, simply look at how you are going to manage preparing your meals and snacks at home. If you are living with a partner and children start looking at how you can include each member of the family in the preparation of the meals. Try that. Cooking and eating will become, as it used to be, a family spiritual practice, even if it takes less time, fortunately, than it took in our old families.

file0001527574719 ©CByron | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images


8 thoughts on “Phase 1, Step 2 (exploration): The Cook

  1. Nan Rubin

    Dear Annick, I just sent you a comment but it got deleted. In short, I find this blog wonderfully crafted and personally meaningful for me. I plan to subscribe and look forward to further entries. Much love, Nan

  2. Stephen

    Very timely. My partner and I have just started a process where we are trying to bring awareness to our eating and exercise habits by meeting specifically to discuss them once a week and to practice moderation without the pressures of a defined diet. I look forward to following this blog.

  3. Nancy Hill

    Absolutely love the emphasis on how cooking can be spiritual. It is for me, when I take the time to actually cook. Do you know The Tasajara Cookbooks by Ed Brown? The bread-making one was my “bible” during my 20s. That and the Moosewood Cookbook.

  4. Dr. Annick Safken Post author

    Finding the time to cook at home, is, you are right, the major issue. It will not happen without an intention to take the time to do it, and let go of other things.. Thanks for the cookbooks references. I’ll check them. This post focus is putting a cook in the kitchen. I will talk about cooking more on step 5.

  5. Dr. Annick Safken Post author

    Wonderful. Reminds me this line from Murphy who founded Esalen. “What I learned from all these years of working with all these teachers, psychologists, visionaries is: Awareness cures.”

  6. SwanneSong

    Hi Annick! I have ‘followed’ you now…I was interested in sugar addiction for quite a while a few years ago and read a lot from Radiant Recovery (Kathleen DesMaisons). I lost a lot of weight following a prescribed diet through Human Design’s Primary Health addition to the Eat 4 Your Blood Type diet. I have eliminated wheat (tested allergic to wheat, corn, barley, onion, sesame seed) and dairy from my diet and it has made a big difference. Eating in social situations is very hard for me when following my eating requirements…so I graze through the day from what I have prepared at home.

    1. Dr. Annick Safken Post author

      Great! By preparing your snacks at home you know what you are putting in your mouth. And congratulations for kicking the habit of eating sugar, as DesMaisons program requires. It is very difficult to set an intention, and then do it. Five days is a minimum but it is enough to see that when you stop eating sugar, the craving for it disappears. A lot of people I have seen cannot even stop eating anything sweet or food with added sugar for a day. I am not going to shame them, I smoked for years, and was addicted to sugar for a little over a year when I moved to Canada from Europe.


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