Zen + Dogs: Every-Minute Zen, 30 minute Union Street

This post is inspired by “Every-Minute Zen” a classic Zen koan reproduced in Zen Flesh Zen Bones: A Collection of Zen and Pre-zen Writings, by Paul Reps and Nyogen Senzaki. (North Clarendon, VT: Tuttle Publishing, 1985.)**

Oct 4

  • Lesson from Tom: Pay attention to the present moment, it’s the only one there is!
  • Sugi says, “When I’m walking, I take in the scent each step along the way.”

dogs

 

cracked sidewalk, uneven underfoot

skin and lungs/nose feel warmth and humidity

mild breeze, hum of landscaping machines

sprinkle of brown leaves crunch under sneakers

breath in just-discernible autumn scent

Maximum 30km

motorcyclemotorcycle parked but exploding hard pannier

City of Vancouver Heritage Building, mustard brown, black railings as outline

newspaper flicking cafe drinkers

hairy stock of a palm tree

ivyivy-type plant, interior leaves of green, pink on fringe

same pink, but deeper, flower with bright yellow centre

yet another, same pink outer petals on fuchsia bells, soft white interior, blooming crazily

across the street side by side smart renos with alternating black and white paint

Trans Canada Trail / Sentier TransCanadien, this way points the arrow

Residents Parking Only, clack of bikes passing

lionsgate to Vancouver Special, two concrete lions surrounding, right lion – right front paw lifted, left lion – left front paw lifted

guy in black with a large black cap accentuating his head

scent of detergent as he stops

“Cute dogs! How old are they”

“Black one’s 10, brown one’s 9”

guerilla folk festivalwhite and green Urban Guerrilla Folk Festival poster

crows caw about nut

guy in a bright green T-shirt, white earbuds letting out dim sounds

cross Gore, more crowded, cafés and bike shop

stop for water out of my pack

remove and fold sweater and stow,

change glasses to interior set

enter shop, browse the beautiful blues and blacks

Tom points to the door, so we head back, I still have a lot to learn

________________________

**Every-Minute Zen
Zen students are with their masters at least ten years before they presume to teach others. Nan-in was visited by Tenno, who having passed his apprenticeship, had become a teacher. The day happened to be rainy, so Tenno wore wooden clogs and carried an umbrella. After greeting him Nan-in remarked: “I suppose you left your wooden clogs in the vestibule. I want to know if your umbrella is on the right or left side of the clogs.” Tenno, confused, had no instant answer. He realized that he was unable to carry his Zen every minute. He became Nan-in’s pupil, and he studied six more years to accomplish his every-minute Zen.

Zen + Dogs: The Three-Headed Daimon

This post is part of the series “Zen and Dogs” (a project I’m doing for my PhD study) and experiments with forms from Zen story-telling, traditionally used as means for moral education. I’ve become interested in Koan practice. Koan is a public story or dialogue that relays an interaction between a Zen master and student and may describe a test to the student’s Zen practice.

Sept 26

threeheaded

  • Lesson from Tom: no use getting frustrated by not being able to control the emotions or expressions of others.
  • Tom says, “Find something to do together that is enjoyable!”

It’s 8:30am. There is nothing to be done about the pouring rain and the reality that we have to go for a walk. My turn, with Tom and Sugi and Bruce whom we’re baby-sitting (last day) for Greg’s daughter Lauren who is traveling. Baby-sitting, an appropriate term here because the dog is brattishly balking every few feet in protest to being forced to walk in the rain, and worse, having to wear a raincoat. I am irked by his ingratitude towards my good intentions…

Pierre Hadot’s Philosophy as a Way of Life discusses the philosophy of  Marcus Aurelius (121-180 AD) and his proposition (from his written Meditations) that the Daimon —nature’s laws and ways, the force indispensable for all creation, the natural spirits— can seen as a guiding principle towards freedom and a moral life.

En route beside Britannia High School, it occurs to me it’s the time when kids are on their way there. Tom and Sugi, both off-leash, head towards the school grounds. I yell that I do not approve. Tom comes back, Sugi continues to browse, ignoring me. I realize frustration linked to the dogs expressing their own desires [contrary to mine!] Anger now directed at Sugi. In different locations, Bruce pooping and Sugi too. Pick up Bruce’s, locate Sugi’s, while keeping track of Tom.

Aurelius proposed three philosophical exercises intended to confront life for its reality. 1. Desire and aversion: People are unhappy because they desire things they can not obtain or control. The task is to develop temperance and to cultivate desire that has moral virtue. “Keep the daimon within you in a state of serenity…”

I try leashing Bruce to Sugi so that Sugi can lead Bruce. Normally this works, allowing for keeping track of two better than three. Today, Sugi doesn’t have enough strength to pull stubborn Bruce, or maybe it’s Sugi’s lack of will…

2. motivated action should be “right action” in the service of community. Inclinations should be towards social justice. “…neither saying anything contrary to the truth, nor doing anything contrary to justice.”

Tom now calmly out in front. Bruce on leash, Sugi browsing close at hand. That’s better. Continue walking, thankful for the pack formation.

Once Tom’s done, we head back. Bruce now moving with purpose. Can’t seem to shake the frustration. Feel surprised by my lack of equanimity at such mundanity. Reflect, searching for a deeper reason. Can’t find any…

3. assent; give ourselves to only that which is true.

Later, Tom reminds me of a special treat the four of us can share. I open a pack of Seaweed Snax. All four of us enjoy the salty, oily flavor. I feel contented through this small act of mutual enjoyment.

seasnax

Sugi’s Vegan Gluten-free Oat, Lentil, Sweet Potato Dog Pancakes

 

pancakes-lentil

  • Lesson from Sugi: Dogs do well on a vegan diet
  • Sugi says, “I love these oat lentil pancakes even more than the other pancakes!”

I modified the last pancake recipe to increase the protein content and to substitute sweet potato for the banana. I think Sugi likes the savory flavor of this one in comparison to the more sweet flavor of the oat/banana recipe. You can buy the lentil flour from Anita’s Mill or from Fairy Cakes. I learned from vegan chef Preet Marwaha, who spoke at the Vegan Congress Tasting on Jan 22, 2014, that you should soak your hemp or flax seeds for a few minutes before using them in the recipe in order to allow them to create a nice jelly like texture. Preet also said the omegas in hemp seeds are especially easy to digest. I added safflower oil because according to my vet it has the same omegas as flax oil which should not be heated.

  • 1 cup organic oat flour
  • 1/3 cup organic lentil flour
  • 1tsp. baking powder
  • 1 cooked small organic sweet potato
  • 2 tbsp organic hemp seeds
  • 2 tbsp safflower oil
  • about 1 1/3 cup unsweetened organic coconut milk beverage (I use So Delicious brand)

Put the seeds in about 1/4 cup of your coconut milk and let them sit. In the meantime, put the flour and baking powder  in a bowl and use a whisk to mix up thoroughly. Put the sweet potato into the bowl that has the seeds/coconut milk and mash together until smooth. Add the mashed ingredients to the dry ingredients. Then add the coconut milk, whisking until smooth, and until you get the thickness you want. Add more coconut milk if you want. Use a spoon to put a dollop (about 1/8-1/4 cup) of batter onto an oiled pan. Cook until dry on the up side. Flip and cook the other side, just like you would regular pancakes! You may have to add a bit of coconut milk as the batter sets while you’re cooking.

You will see in the picture that I’ve cooked them as small (about 3″) grittle cakes on a special grill that spans two burners. Once done, I let them cool on a rack. Sugi (20 lbs.) eats about 6 of these per day (in addition to other lovely treats…). Unlike Tom, Sugi knows when he’s had enough… Delicious!

Sugi’s Vegan Gluten Free Dog Pancakes


pancakes

  • Lesson from Sugi: Dogs like to eat things that taste good!
  • Sugi says, “I love these special pancakes made with love”

For some dog reason lately, Sugi has been very picky about his food. Things he used to love—squash, buckwheat noodles, rice noodles, azuki beans—don’t interest him right now. It can be frustrating offering  food and him turning his head away! I tried to entice him with various foods including goat dairy products, such as cheese and yogurt, and tofu. But after a week of these, I noticed he developed itchy ears and congested breathing, so I’m thinking he’s  allergic to dairy and soy products.

On a weekend over the holidays, I tried this vegan oat pancake recipe from Guten Free Vegan Girl for myself. These pancakes are delicious! They are even better cooked as waffles! Oats, the type of flour used in the recipe, are one of the most protein-rich grains with 17% protein compared to rice which is 7%.

I adapted the above recipe for Sugi by substituting the apricots (too sweet for him) with banana and adding some veggie puree. The pancakes do not have any sweetener, and they are full of protein, fruit, veggies and omegas so I believe they are a nutritious meal:

  • 1 1/3 cup organic oat flour
  • 1tsp. baking powder
  • 1 organic banana
  • 1/4 cup pureed cooked organic yam and carrot
  • 2 tbsp organic hemp or flax seeds
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • about 1 1/3 cup unsweetened organic coconut milk beverage (I use So Delicious brand)

Put the dry ingredients in a bowl and use a whisk to mix up the flour with the baking powder. Put the other ingredients (except the coconut milk) together in a small bowl and mash until smooth. Add the mashed ingredients to the dry ingredients. Then add the coconut milk, whisking until smooth, until you get the thickness you want. Add more if you want. Use a spoon to put a dollop (about 1/8-1/4 cup) of batter onto an oiled pan. Cook until dry on the up side. Flip and cook the other side, just like you would regular pancakes! You may have to add a bit of coconut milk as the batter sets while you’re cooking.

You will see in the picture that I’ve cooked them as small (about 3″) grittle cakes on a special grill that spans two burners. Once done, I let them cool on a rack. Sugi (20 lbs.) eats about 6 of these per day (in addition to other lovely treats…). He seems satisfied and is not losing any weight, so I’m happy… Delicious!