Working in the kitchen at Upaya can be a tight dance between the food prep table and the wash up sink. Cutting, chopping, slicing involves the use of a variety of sharp and often large knives which also have to be cleaned as we finish with one type of food and begin work with another. So when taking the knife from cutting table to sink and back again, it is common to hear the more seasoned workers call out, “Knife!” It’s a warning to everyone that a sharp object with potential for harm is in transition near them.
It seemed to me that can also be a great practice when transitioning from one emotional state to another. “Knife!” I can cry out when I’m trying to get from anger to passion, greed to generosity, confusion to understanding.
Of course, I don’t want to just stop the conditioning that leads to suffering. It helps to cultivate and embody the passion, generosity and understanding. I’m reminded of what we would do when entering or leaving parts of the horse barn. To alert the horse and rider to the opening of doors between stable and arena, we would call out, “Door!” Another great invitation to bring the mind to attention and to keep the habitual aspects of personality from bolting.
Evan Thompson writes in Mind in Life:
According to bundle theory, there is no single and permanent self that persists through time; the self is rather a bundle of constantly changing and psychologically continuous experiences or mental episodes.
Sometimes it is “Knife!”
Sometimes it is “Door!”
Thank you for practicing,