Following on from the 1992 tour of His Holiness to Australia, I began working as a Kitchen Manager at Tara Insitute, in Melbourne, Australia. This is the way I practiced generosity. The Buddhist Centre at the time had many commitments and I agree to volunteer much of my time, seven hours a day to complete the work necessary as kitchen manager to that Buddhist Centre.
I woke up early at four or five am. Then I would focus on generating the bodhicitta motivation as a reason behind all my actions of body, speech and mind. One needs to look at the seven fold cause and effect method to understand why it is so worthwhile to generate the bodhicitta motivation as the reason behind each action of body, speech and mind that one both aspires to and engages in.
I will discuss this now. Firstly beings need to be recognized as having been like kind mothers. All beings are like this, kind mothers. Then you think of the ways in which these beings are kind. We are fortunate to be in receipt and prescence of such a holy, and pure spiritual, religious, scientific and medical tradition, that is uncorrupt. There are so many ways to recognize the kindness that is on display around us. We can’t really get anywhere without this kindness.
Then we consider repaying this kindness. How wrong to take kindness for granted, or to be greedy with it. Then we develop loving kindness, the wish for oneself and others to have happiness and it’s causes. We need to deeply feel this way at all times to oppose anger and hatred, which is is the wish to cause harm. You need to apply the antidote of loving kindness to oppose and cessate the harmful negative states of mind of anger and hatred. Hatred and anger are always wrong states of mind.
Then you generate compassion, which is the wish for oneself and others to be free of suffering and it’s causes. After this you generate altruism and then you develop the mind wishing to, aspiring to and engaging in the path to Buddhahood or enlightenment. You also need to recognize that all phenomena lack inherent existence, whilst cause and effect and dependent arising are unfailing.
Now, having done this, I worked on preparing the weekly menu. So I would shower and dress thinking this way.
I prepared a three course vegetarian meal for the residents of Tara and the public, over forty people, five evenings a week.
The meal would begin with soup, then a main course, and finally desert. I had to arrange a meal design that offered different meals for about two weeks in a row. Then I did the ordering, keeping within a strict budget. All the meal planning and menu design and ordering was done in my own time, unpaid as a volunteer. I turned up for some paid work five hours a day, five days a week to actually prepare and cook the meals.
My meals were quite well received. People generally liked the soup, which was good. As I was a bit new to vegetarian cooking, I had quite a bit to learn. After four months on the job, the executive committee advertised the Centre’s position of Centre Manager. After consulting with Geshe Doga, I was advised to apply for the position.
Copyright © Vanessa Anne Walsh 2019