Zen cartoon by Gahan Wilson (b.1930)
Soen-roshi disliked the self-conscious spirituality, “the stink of Zen,” that he thought he detected in the sesshin [retreat] participants…On occasion, he put a large pumpkin on the roshi’s cushion in the dokusan [interview] room, then hid behind the door, snickering wickedly as earnest students prostrated themselves before the pumpkin, only to hear the laughter of the bell that ended their “confrontation with the roshi” and sent them packing back downstairs to their black cushions.
–Peter Matthiessen (1927-2014)
Nine-Headed Dragon River – Zen Journals, 1998
At the close of a long hot summer, the appearance of the pumpkin heralds the welcome arrival of autumn.
–Kari Spencer, www.themicrofarmproject.com
…full-breath deep serenity,
pleasures of company
before the year gets lonely…
pumpkin pie, pumpkin everything
squash—butternut, kabocha, delicata!…
the angle of Sun makes a new color
we don’t have in any other month…
–Terri Guillemets, “Autumn whispers October into my ear,” 2015
My Vedic Kitchen
When the frost is on the pumpkin . . . it’s time to eat ’em! Pumpkins are not only good for pumpkin-carving contests, but they also make a bright addition to any fall meal. They’re rich in nutrition, too. High in heart-protecting beta-carotene (vitamin A), cooked pumpkin provides a rich source of potassium. Moist and sweet like any squashes, they’re an ideal way to pacify the dry Vata dosha when added to breads or soups.
And don’t forget the seeds. Pumpkin seeds are excellent for pacifying Vata and Pitta, and in moderation, can also be eaten by those wishing to pacify Kapha dosha. Pumpkin seeds contain the minerals phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, iron and zinc. They also provide protein and vitamin K.
When selecting your pumpkins for baking, steaming, sautéing or puréeing, the small pie pumpkins, also called sweet or eating pumpkins, are best. Save the jack-o-lanterns for carving — their flesh is too watery and stringy to eat.
Pumpkin Spice Chai
by Rachelle Atkinson
- 4 Organic Vata Tea bags (or chai tea of your choice)
- 2 c. puréed cooked organic pumpkin
- 1 can organic coconut milk (full-fat or light)
- ¾ tsp. organic cinnamon
- ½ tsp. organic nutmeg
- ½ tsp. organic ground ginger
- ⅛ tsp. organic ground cloves
- Brew the tea bags in 4 cups of almost-boiling water; steep well.
- Separately, on stovetop combine pumpkin, coconut milk and spices in medium saucepan; heat thoroughly.
- Allow the mixture and tea to cool and combine into a blender; mix well.
- Return to saucepan and heat again before serving.
- Sweeten to taste.
Vata Tea : Ingredients and suggested use: organic licorice (root), organic ginger (rhizome), organic cardamom (fruit), organic cinnamon (bark)
Suggested Use: Place 1 tsp. of tea in a tea strainer. Add to one cup of boiling water and steep for 2-5 minutes. Enjoy with lemon, sweetener or milk to taste.
U * U * U * U
Soen-roshi was a fathomlessly delightful, original, and profound person. I’m still learning from him…Of course! He was brought to this country by his elder fellow Zen master, Nyogen Senzaki-sensei — Uncle Nogie — my old childhood family friend & early spiritual teacher.
The reason the retreatants, when they came to their interview with Soen-roshi didn’t know at first that he was hiding behind where he’d placed a giant pumpkin in his official teaching seat, was because you enter the room bent down from the waist, with your eyes on the floor and your head down. Traditionally you bow before the seat, in recognition of the teacher’s role in symbolically representing the “three jewels”–the enlightening teaching (Buddha dharma), the universal cosmic assembly of fellow beings (sangha), and the enlightened state itself, embodied as Lord Buddha.
You enter the room silently, fluidly, quickly, but with dignity and mutual respect. You present your experience gained since the previous interview, and only then look up at the Roshi as he gives his reply, if any, before ringing his bell to conclude the face-to-face session. Only when one had entered and presented one’s case, and then looked up expecting to see Soen-roshi’s beautiful beaming face but sometimes ultimately serious face, did one discover Soen’s magic trick of having turned himself into a pumpkin. And then the dismissal bell rang out along with Roshi’s peals of laughter.
Sit like an eggplant. Sit like a pumpkin.
Sit like an autumn leaf that has let go of the bough and is floating down toward the ground but keeps floating, for now, on the gentle cooling breeze.
Soen-roshi: “This world is so wonderful, so Unthinkable and Ungraspable.
What are we touching right here and now?”