Because it is so very clear, It takes so long to realize.
If you just know that flame is fire, you’ll find your rice has long been cooked.
~ Gateless Barrier, Case 7, Wumen’s verse
“It takes so long to realize,” writes Wumen in his appreciatory verse for Chiao-chou’s Wash Your Bowls (A student comes to the teacher, who asks, “Have you eaten yet?” The student replies he has. “Then go wash your bowls,” responds the teacher). Our natural impulse is this age of convenience and short time spans is to seek ways to speed up the process of awakening. We don’t have time.
Even casual readers of this blog might notice that this is the second week in a row in which I appear to be making a product endorsement. I wish to deny that (though if you are an advertiser, inquire here). The Instant Pot is an authentic, modern, and global phenom. A week or so ago, the New Yorker Magazine reprised a 2018 article on the “Butter-Chicken Lady”, Urvashi Pitre, a Houston-based food blogger raised in Pune, India, and promoter of I.P. cooking. This past year, The Washington Post published at least eight articles on the Instant Pot. I too, recently became an I.P. believer. I have always been a bit addicted to kitchen implements of mass production and promotion: the Veg-O-Matic slicer and dicer, ultra-sharp Ginsu knives, and the slow-cooker Crock-Pot. But the New Yorker article gave me of the courage to come out of the shadows on that craving.
Last week, sitting around a lazy Sunday lunch table with friends, the subject of using a Le Creuset cast-iron Dutch oven to cook Coq a Vin, came up. It takes 2-1/2 hours to cook the bird properly in a Dutch oven. I boasting I could do it in 15 minutes in my Instant Pot. I also mentioned how I had recently made Saag Chicken, using greens from my garden: a pound of Purple Osaka mustard greens, spinach, Italian kale, and beet greens. I also added a wonderful gallery of South Asian spices: coriander, cumin, garam masala, turmeric, and a pinch of cayenne. It was fabulous. Just 20 minutes, total. In fact, the discussion last weekend was going so well (in my favor, I thought), that I suggested we consider “Instant Potting” our lives. Just think, what if we could condense five years of experience into a single month? It was only later that I recalled Wumen’s verse cited above.
In Wumen’s poem, he says that it is because the light of the world shines so clearly that we don’t see it. In fact, from the very beginning, our own rice has long been cooked. There is no Instant Pot enlightenment. Enlightenment is merely realizing that flame is fire, that we are complete, done, finished, fine, whole, bright, clear, just as we are. No need to turn on the pot.