Tat Tvam Asi

If you are an avid reader you probably have a few books you have read more than once. Maybe something you read when you were a child which you read to your child. Perhaps something you read in college that drew you to read it again twenty years later. A book is a bit of frozen time. Often when I re-read something I think, “wait, I don’t remember it like this.” Of course the book hasn’t changed. I have. Sometimes you feel disappointed, sometimes you feel enchanted, sometimes you think, “Oh, how did I forget that?” Today you gleen something totally new, something you never noticed before, something so appropriate to your life right now. The kind of book that does that is a good book. It speaks on many different levels. It is timeless.

In a small way you live a second life through it. You can flutter through it’s faded words and dog-eared pages as if you are looking at years ago. There are people I feel this way about in my life too. My students, my son, some of my friends. I see the exquisiteness of having been there. And they look at you as if they are looking at a book, reading what fits their life in you. You look at them as if you are looking at the book, reading life in them again.

There were a few books I read last year for school. One of them was the Ramayana and Mahabharata (combined). I had said I had never read them before, but as I lost myself in it’s pages it all felt so very familiar. I realized I had indeed read it before, about eighteen or twenty years before. The Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads. Poor translations, western interpretations, but still the same stories. Even as I sat alone with that book, I was embarrassed for my youthful ignorance. Yet, how deeply those ideas had been woven into the fabric of my being. So much so that they laid buried, forgotten, somewhere in the back of my brain quietly holding up my soul. Gently birthing each new me.

Everything we ingest does this. It becomes part of the fabric of our being. The food we have eaten, the sun that has warmed our faces, the people we have known, the water we drink even the bottle of wine we share over dinner. Our ecology. Our Biology. Our mythology about our lives.

I pulled out a little book on Buddhism I had read when I was young. It gave those lovely instructions of right understanding, right thought, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration. I remember reading these things and thinking, “how could anyone ever be so perfect? How could I do that all the time?” Today I think, there is no perfection about it. These are not things to do, these are things that you are. Intellectually, emotionally, biologically your are you food, your speech, your actions, your effort. I thought I had understood this idea that doing and being are the same things, but once you have done and been for a bit, it’s never really how you imagined it when you first read those words.

Be the bread.

Tassajara Yeasted Bread (from Edward Espe Brown)

unity and duality

3 cups lukewarm water (85 to 105 degrees)
Tbsp. dry yeast (2 packages)
¼ cup sweetening (honey, molasses, or brown sugar)
1 cup dry milk (optional)
4 cups whole-wheat flour (substitute 1 or more cups unbleached white flour if desired)
4 tsp. salt
cup oil or butter
3 cups additional whole-wheat flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour for kneading
  1. In a large ceramic bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water. Stir in the sweetening and the dry milk (optional). Stir in the 4 cups of whole-wheat flour to form a thick batter. Beat well with a spoon (100 strokes).
  2. Let the dough rise for 45 minutes.
  3. Fold in the salt and the oil, then fold in the additional 3 cups of flour until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl. Knead on a floured board for about 10 minutes, using the additional 1 cup flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking to the board. Stop when the dough is smooth.
  4. Let the dough rise for 50 to 60 minutes, or until doubled in size. Punch it down.
  5. Let the dough rise for another 40 to 50 minutes, or until doubled in size. Shape the dough into loaves and place in 2 loaf pans or a single heavy baking dish. Let rise for 20 to 25 minutes.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  7. Brush the tops of the loaves with an egg wash (a egg beaten with a few tablespoons of water or milk) and bake for 40 minutes to an hour, or until golden brown. Remove from the pans and let cool before slicing.

3 thoughts on “Tat Tvam Asi

  1. I’ve wanted to draw up the title to this post as a tattoo for myself. I was schocked when it just popped up in my email. Excellent post, i couldn’t have worded it all better if I put effort into it

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