All that was stuck, fixated, frozen in place, now moves, and in moving, delights. It is Zen Master Dogen’s “dharma gate of enjoyment.” The body is no longer structured from memory, from unconscious rules of behavior, but resonates with song, the song of bread-making-itself.
Elbows flex and straighten, a breeze in the summer air; shoulders awaken, water flowing over the rocks, and the chest expands, releases, leaps. Wings spread. Have you attained something, or have you let go the idea there is anything to be attained? Have you gotten somewhere, or resumed your original nature, boundless and immeasurable?
Time stops, time swings, without separation from object, without separation from experience. The body is completely willing. The body does not begrudge the time it takes, does not aim for the future, is not enmeshed in the past. That’s what the mind does. The too-solid flesh melts, responding to the dough, engaging the hands in absorption. Wrists, forearm, elbows, a body standing. Somewhere a floor. Kneading the bread covers all space; there is nothing outside this vastness, and time is simply swallowed up.
Feeling what your hands are feeling, standing where your feet are standing, breathing the air your lungs are breathing. Shaping a ball, scoring it in half with a knife, and the dough spreads apart, lively, yielding, again delighting. Inside, the body springs.
A machine will not give your hands the massage the bread dough gives you, nor the messages. The body we believe is structured, but in the reality of bread-making-itself, a body is not to be found. No fingertips; but warmth, vibrancy. No palms; but softness, pliancy. Or is it that the bread becomes body? The palms of dough pressed to the palms of hands. It is the eye in the hand of Avalokiteshvara that sees: “This is holy. This is precious.” Body meeting body, body disappears, bread is realized.
And the fragrance from the oven conveys the sustenance of the ages . . . or is it the nourishment of the ageless? Smell that smell! We are blessed with these fruits of the earth. We are heartened by the matter we call work, as well as by the spirit we call bread. ▼
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