February 18, 2007

"The Chocolate Cake Sutra"

Ingredients for a Sweet Life
by Geri Larkin

For someone who doesn't sit in one place too long, I've had to limit the number of books I have on the shelf (this from a person who for years loved to buy books, the more the merrier). So, on one shelf I have about a dozen books, mostly travel, signed by the authors. And on another shelf, I have my books on spirituality, mostly on Buddhism. Any book by Geri Larkin has a permanent place on those shelves.

Not that many years ago I checked out a book at the library called "Stumbling Towards Enlightenment" about her discovering Buddhism and her life as a Zen Buddhist Monk. I loved it so much, I bought a copy. She just has a way about her, how she tells the story. Geri is smart but down to earth, she's funny and laughs a lot at herself, she's both profound and childlike. She's the kind of person you'd want to be your best friend, and also a must have on the guest list to any party.

I hesitated only a second when I found out this book is in hardback (more expensive) but shouldn't have worried because it's worth every cent. Like many of her other books, it gives good advice about living, using examples from her own life. I highly recommend it.

Inside Book Jacket:
The Chocolate Cake Sutra demonstrates that when the best aspects of a spiritual life converge, we are better able to take the slings and arrows of our lives in stride with grace and a grin. What are the right ingredients for a life filled with delectable treats?
- 3 cups of living an adventurous life
- include a large portion of true friendship
- add a dash of genuine generosity, extreme tolerance, and clear-headedness
- leave dish open to all kinds of knowledge
- stir with great energy
- bake ethically and serve with exceptional amounts of wisdom
Chock full of moving and enlightening stories, The Chocolate Cake Sutra will help you let go of perfectionism and celebrate the sacred nature of the life you already have.

Meaningful Quotes:
...I've realized only this: that everything and everyone is precious beyond words. Everything and everyone is holy. And the point of our being on this sweet planet is to be of service to all of it. And when we understand this truth in our bones, joy fills our hearts, I swear it.

...faith and gratitude create fertile soil for the specific behaviors that can transform our experience of every day to one of deep happiness, laced with energy...

"Those who perform good deeds do not experience remorse and woe. Instead they are happy now and they are happy later - in this world and the next they know bliss." The Buddha

The Buddhist Precepts:
Do not harm but cherish all life.
Do not take what is not given but respect the things of others.
Do not engage in sexual promiscuity but practice purity of mind and self-restraint.
Do not lie but speak the truth.
Do not partake in the production and transactions of firearms or chemical poisons which are injurious to public health and safety, nor of drugs and liquors which confuse or weaken the mind.
Do not waste but conserve energy and natural resources.
Do not harbor enmity against the wrongs of others but promote peace and justice through nonviolent means.
Do not cling to things that belong to you but practice generosity and the joy of sharing.

If we can get past laziness and fear, ethical behavior is deeply gratifying.

Everything we do matters. Everything.

"Above all remember...that you have a great opportunity... Millions all over the world would give almost anything they posses to be where you are. You are there by no desert or merit of your own, but only by lucky chance.
Deserve it then. Study, do your work. Be honest, frank, fearless and get some grasp of the real values in life. You will meet, of course, curious little annoyances..." W.E.B DuBois

"You can do anything you want to do. I mean it. Blunder ahead."
Robert Henri

A life in which all of our available senses are in play is magical.

Clearheadedness is fed by spiritual practice, whether it is meditation, prayer, bowing toward Mecca, chanting, or whatever your practice is. If we stick to whatever tradition we are most comfortable in and do our best to keep ethical principles, sooner or later living smack in the middle of present tense happens. And with it comes a joy in the date pulled in by all of our senses, even when the data isn't good news.

When we are responding to information unclouded by our own biases, we see instantly what is needed in a situation. Life becomes improv.

"You must do the thing you think you cannot do." Eleanor Roosevelt

In fact, surprises become opportunities to practice living life more spontaneously and more intuitively. We get to draw on our innate wisdom, sometimes called crazy wisdom because it is rarely linear. Our lives lighten up since crazy wisdom can bring with it great laughter and play. As we play more, we give other people permission to play as well. In this place impossible things become possible.

Crazy wisdom offers us an opportunity to be thrilled to be alive, sharing a world that is endlessly fascinating. This is a world that is holy.

To take risks, we need to trust that we will survive them - that new people, new places, and new behaviors won't kill us any more than not taking risks will. ...the more risks we take, the more adventures we step into, the more we appreciate the experience of all of our senses.

...being a true friend is its own adventure because we can never really know where a friendship will lead.

If life can't be a great adventure, how can we learn the lessons we need to learn?

Giving yourself permission to be an adventurer - whatever that means to you - feeds you in the deepest way possible. You will be energized. Wisdom grows out of your experiences. So does compassion.

This is what wisdom allows - a capacity for being completely present and helpful in one situation and then moving completely into the next situation that arises.

We aren't in charge of anyone else. The Buddha himself said, don't fix anyone else, just fix yourself.

Wisdom tells us that we have our own work to do, each one of us.

Wisdom is everywhere. We can relax a little and watch for it, tap in to it. We can relax a little and be it.

We fuel the journey through our courage to question, our drive to find out who we really are underneath all our neurotic tendencies, and our growing compassion fore everyone and everything that shares this space and time.

"Live in peace. Live in joy." The Buddha

"I said to my soul be still,
and wait without hope
Wait without thought...
So the darkness shall be the light,
and the stillness the dancing." T.S.Elliot

Other books by Geri Larkin:
Stumbling Toward Enlightenment
The Still Point Dhammapada
First You Shave Your Head
Tap Dancing in Zen