Wobblyogi Wednesday: Jon Kabat-Zinn

Here is a food poem from third century China referenced in Jon Kabat-Zin’s book, Wherever you go, there you are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life:

Prince Wen Hui’s cook

Was cutting up an ox.

Out went a hand,

Down went a shoulder,

He planted a foot,

He pressed with a knee,

The ox fell apart

With a whisper,

The bright cleaver murmured

like a gentle wind.

Rhythm! Timing!

Like a sacred dance,

Like “The Mulberry Grove,”

Like ancient harmonies!

“Good work!” the Prince exclaimed,

“Your method is faultless!”

“Method?” said the cook

Laying aside his cleaver,

“What I follow is Tao

Beyond all methods!

“When I first began

to cut up oxen

I would see before me

The whole ox

All in one mass.

After three years

I no longer saw this mass.

I saw the distinctions.

“But now I see nothing

With the eye. My whole being


My senses are idle. The spirit

Free to work without plan

Follows its own instinct

Guided by natural line,

By the secret opening, the hidden space,

My cleaver finds its own way.

I cut through no joint, chop no bone.

“There are spaces in the joints;

The blade is thin and keen:

When this thinness

Finds the space

There is room for all you need!

It goes like a breeze!

Hence I have this cleaver nineteen years

As if newly sharpened!

“True, there are sometimes

Tough joints. I feel them coming,

I slow down, I watch closely,

Hold back, barely move the blade,

And whump! the part falls away

Landing like a clod of earth.

“Then I withdraw the blade,

I stand still

And let the joy of the work

Sink in.

I clean the blade

And put it away.”

Prince Wen Hui said,

“This is it! My cook has shown me

How I ought to live

My own life!”


Kabat-Zinn continues to explain that,

“Meditation is synonymous with the practice of non-doing. We aren’t practicing to make things perfect or to do thing perfectly. Rather, we practice to grasp and realize (make real for ourselves) the fact that things already are perfect, perfectly what they are. This has everything to do with holding the present moment in its fullness without imposing anything extra on it, perceiving its purity and the freshness of its potential to give rise to the next moment.”

He calls this awareness, being able to detect the “bloom of the present moment in every moment, the ordinary ones, the in-between ones, even the hard ones.”

I like the ideas of welcoming “The bloom of the moment” and “letting the joy of the work, sink in.”

Right now, I’m reading, writing and sharing a moment of discovery. As are you.

I’ll stop writing now and just let this moment sink in.

Wishing you many moments of bloom!


Thoughts? Questions? Comments?

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