Another snippet from Glassman’s talk in reference to cooking up the Five Course Meal (see Instructions to the Cook by Glassman & Fields).
“We can only do the best we can with the ingredients we know. There are many ingredients we don’t know.”
In fact, there are often ingredients in a mix that we are not aware are there – or how they are adding to the flavour.
One example that was discussed extensively was of a village to which a developer brought indoor plumbing. As a result the well, which was the community gathering center, fell to disuse and the subtle ways of communicating between villagers ruptured. The bonds of the community were based in the gatherings and sharing that emerged from those meetings around the well.
By the time the impact of rip in the social fabric was understood, repairing it became a dilemma. What do you do? Tear out all the pipes and cisterns in each house? Build a community center?
The paradox in the koan is only in its construction, in how the story is told. There are unknown and unknowable ingredients in each shift of the story.
Can we only know them in retrospect?