Because of the recent minor bread-disasters, and because I required some bread to take with me while working a weekend, I had to bake again fast on the heels of my previous loaves. I used my zen no-mind to make a couple of 100% whole wheat sourdough loaves.
That just means I no longer have to think about it to make these breads.
The recent minor bread-disasters: (1) my wife turned off the oven while I was baking my whole wheat bread, and the dough flattened out on the stone before I realized it and turned it on again. That bread turned out to be a dense, unevenly baked loaf, but it tasted fine. Just looked funny, and not good enough to give away to my friend who has come to expect his bread. (2) the pizza dough was overly fermented, so to use up the dough I just made a couple of smaller loaves with the leftover dough. I thought I hadn't taken pictures of it, but here it is, sans crumb-shot.
|No mind bread|
Notes to Myself
- Zen is a difficult topic for me. I have struggled with trying to understand it intellectually, but realize that this is a fool's errand. There are conflicting reports in literature about zen, and it goes as deep as any koan: it is the difference between "no mind" and "mindfulness". Zen embraces both. Satori seems to be a state that is beyond mind. You achieve it with attention to no-mind. Mindfulness of no-mind is a contradiction. It is said that beginners can sit in zazen and achieve satori in an eyeblink. But zazen is practice enlightenment. You sit and you sit and you sit, trying not to wobble. Eventually you aren't wobbling, you are just sitting. And then you realize you are just sitting. And that is the enlightenment. All is clarity, the mind doesn't stand in your way when you are sitting.
And does one achieve this mindfulness in the beginning? In the beginner's mind, all attention is scattered. With effort, the attention can be drawn back to the singleminded attention. But what is required is Wu Wei, effortlessness. It can't be achieved with effort. So the beginner who has brought her mind back to focus then allows it to drift again. And the sitting continues, but the thoughts are elsewhere. Eventually the sitting comes to consciousness again. But what is the mind attending to? What is the purpose of all this sitting? It is merely to sit. And be mindful. Of No-Mind.
Baking bread is a meditation. It is what happens when we are mindful, it is what happens when there is no-mind. It happens. We are part of the process, but it is not necessary for us to internalize it. It happens at arm's length. It happens when touch it. In the beginning we will it to happen, but in the end it happens without our will's involvement. Bread appears, and we have made it. We were mindful of the process once, but now, like breathing, it is second nature. We can be mindful now of no-mind.
But like in yoga, where we attend to breath even though it is autonomic, now we also attend to the bread-making process. We don't do it on autopilot, we stay involved. Time stretches, it elongates like dough. There is a space beyond the moments that we conceive as joined together. That window onto space looks out over eternity. Windowpane shines through these moments. Stretch it out. There is more here. Attend to it. Eternity in each fold and stretch.
The bread, it very nearly makes itself.
But you never remove yourself from yourself because there is no self. You become the bread. The bread becomes you.
"This is my body, broken for you."