The Benefit of No Anger

For the next few posts, unless there’s a special event coming up, I’ll have a couple of reflections on either a Buddhist verse or a snippet from the classics and hopefully bring in a more refreshed meaning to them.  Here is one from Venerable Master Hsing Yun’s “Cloud and Water”–

A face with no anger is a true offering,
A mouth that speaks no anger is fragrant and fresh.
A heart with no anger is a priceless treasure,
Buddha nature is beyond time and limit.

A person’s character could be identified by three main factors:  body, speech, and mind.  The mind can be a little hard to tell, but body and speech can be easy giveaways especially those with more extreme (good and bad) characteristics.  I mean, who would really want to approach someone with a poo-poo face right?  So when someone has a face with no anger, the person is usually happy, neutral, or you can’t tell because their head is looking down onto their phone.  I’ve recently discovered, and this is more likely while I’m walking outside or whatever and I cross paths with others when we greet each other or at least smile and nod at each other, your day has just felt that much better.  It’s just like an offering to the Buddha.  On the flip side when someone gives you a snare or something, then your day just rained out.

In my recent job interviews, I try to stay as professional and as courteous as possible to everyone I meet from the security guard to the receptionist, to the interviewer, and so on whether it’s physically or electronically (email).  After the interview, I was told I would hear back in about two weeks.  There was a delay in decision making, and I was notified by the interviewer.  I could have done one of two things–demand that a decision is made so that I can schedule further interviews accordingly, or thank them again for the opportunity to consider me and let them take their time in the decision making.  This is a mediocre example, but a more extreme example would be like what my doctor told me the other day about two workers that got laid off from their company the same day.  Employee A got the pink slip from his boss and he angerly demanded a reason why he was chosen and left the office slamming the boss’s coffee mug on the floor.  Employee B also felt sad, but stayed calm and thanked the boss for the time invested in him and the many learning opportunities.  Employee B also requested a recommendation letter and finally left the office quietly.  If you were the boss, how would you feel about Employees A and B?

This sort of reflects what the Venerable Master has been promoting, a concept called the Three Acts of Goodness–do good deeds, speak good words, keep a good heart.  It sounds really easy and all, but to put that into practice, especially when you’re faced with a difficult situation.  Why aren’t other Buddhist groups following suit?  That’s a hard question, but regardless, as practitioners, we always try our best to work on ourselves and be more observant and mindful of our actions.  That’s how Buddha nature is discovered, the Buddha nature that resides inside of us that is.  There’s no rush, that nature will continue to patiently await your discovery.

Rice Pasta with Mushrooms and White Sauce

It was a full moon day at the temple, the Abbot and director had to go out of town leaving me and another resident monk on site.  I was asked to make dinner, so before I left home I found a can of truffle and mushroom sauce that I bought way too long ago.  I thought about pasta.

After evening chanting, I looked in the temple kitchen for some ingredients, mushrooms, butter, milk, etc.  There wasn’t any pasta available, but I found a pack of dried noodles made with rice and gluten shaped like linguine.  I also couldn’t find the flour, so I took a risk and tried rice flour.

I don’t have exact measurements for these ingredients, but for those that have experience, you can probably figure out the portions as we go along.

Ingredients:

  • White button mushrooms with stems pulled and skinned if a little too old, cut into thick slices.
  • Soy patties, diced.
  • deep fried plain white tofu, sliced
  • Butter, 2 Tablespoons
  • Milk, about a glass
  • Flour (rice flour in this case), about 3 Tablespoons
  • Small can of truffle and mushroom sauce
  • Pasta (or rice pasta in this case)
  • Parmesan cheese

To completely vegan-ize this, the butter can be substituted with maybe a mix of avocado and peanut oil, the milk replaced with cashew milk, and the cheese with either a vegan cheese or just skipped altogether.

Cook the pasta a little bit under al-dente or whatever the instructions say.  For example, if the package says 10 minutes, cook them for maybe 8 or 9.  Then save up a little bit of pasta water, then strain.  Saute the mushrooms in a lightly oiled pan until the juices come out and have fairly reduced (I usually reduce to about 1/4) then add soy patty chunks and tofu slices.  Set aside for later.

In another clean pan, melt the butter with an extra tablespoon or so of oil, then add the flour and stir fry until slightly brown and mixed well.  Add the milk, stir around, if it’s too thick, use pasta water to dilute it some.  Season with mushroom powder and add cheese.  Then add the truffle sauce and lower the heat to low.  Stir for a quick minute, taste to make sure it’s not too salty (you can try to do a save with pasta water or milk but not too much).  If there’s not enough seasoning, add salt and pepper to taste.

Mix the pasta into the sauce and plate.  Top with the mushroom stirfry and some more cheese on top.  Serve immediately.

The tofu may sound like it doesn’t exactly fit, but it sat around for a while and needed to be used up.  After trying this recipe the tofu came out pretty nice.  The thing about cooking is that it doesn’t have to be always exactly step-by-step.  Once you can grasp onto the core concepts, for example, getting enough sauce to incorporate all the pasta while not wasting anything, you can change some of the stuff around.

The idea of Zen is that it can’t be completely fixed in stone.  That’s not what Bodhidharma or Hui Neng wanted.  Zen is lively and can be practiced and applied in different ways without neglecting our reflection and awareness of our own actions.  By the way, the final product was successful.