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Elizabeth Reninger

Main Course, Dessert, Condiments

By November 26, 2012

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I recently received an email from a friend, which brought to mind the Taoist practice of wuwei: effortless effort, non-volitional action, going with the flow.

My friend is a longtime professional French chef, with very high-powered credentials: trained in Paris at Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts School; opened his own French restaurant in Denver; became something of a "rock star" within that professional milieu. Then, ten years ago, fed up with the stresses of owning his own business, decided to go to work instead for a well-known national health-food grocery chain.

Anyway, his email message went something like this:

"Well, [said corporation] just fired me. They decided they no longer wanted to pay my salary. (Can hire a replacement at one-quarter the cost.) Actually, we came to a mutual agreement -- so I'm getting unemployment, and am so happy! Then my car broke down, which was a bummer. But I discovered I had some money in my 401-k, so I bought a beautiful new Mercedes-Benz. We can easily take road trips to ...."

So now -- as well as being happy for my friend, and inspired by his joyful fluidity -- I've been thinking in terms of culinary metaphors ....

What is the main course of spiritual practice? In relation to a Taoist path, perhaps you'd agree that it's some combination of turning the light around and then keeping the one, yes? Here Mingyur Rinpoche -- a Tibetan Buddhist lama -- offers instructions very much in alignment with this main course of Taoist practice, whose fruits of happiness, joy, ease and clarity might be considered as desserts.

What about the side-dishes and condiments? Perhaps these would include so-called siddhis: seemingly extraordinary capacities which may manifest -- either spontaneously or as the result of specific practices -- along the way. Tom Kenyon offers a very nice essay on the siddhis -- what they are and what they aren't.

And the appetizers? -- Glimpses, hints, previews, intuitions .... that something truly excellent is forthcoming ... worth being open to, for sure.

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