Vegetables for a Long Life

By Disciple Upasika Kuo Chin Imbiow

Perhaps you are wondering why none of the recipes in Vegetables for a Long Life include onions or garlic. They are not eaten at Gold Mountain Monastery, but rather than try to explain why myself, I will quote the words of the Buddha from the Surangama Sutra:

"Ananda, all beings live if they eat wholesome food and die if they take poison. In their search for samadhi, they should abstain from eating 5 kinds of pungent roots (i.e. garlic, the 3 kinds of onions and leeks); if eaten cooked, they are aphrodisiac and if raw, they cause irritability. Although those who eat them may read the 12 divisions of the Mahayana canon, they drive away seers in the 10 directions who abhor the bad odor, and attract hungry ghosts who lick their lips.  They are always surrounded by ghosts and their good fortune will fade away day by day to their own detriment. When these eaters of pungent roots practice samadhi, none of the Bodhisattvas, seers, and good spirits come to protect them, while the mighty king of demons takes advantage of the occasion to appear as a Buddha as if to teach them the Dharma, defaming and breaking the precepts and praising carnality, anger and stupidity; at their death, they will join his retinue, and at the end of their time in his realm, they will fall into the unintermittent hell. Ananda, practicers of samadhi should never eat these 5 pungent roots. This is the first step of gradual practice.”

At first, when you start cooking without onions, you may feel deprived, but after a while you won't even miss them.  Here, then, are a few pungent-rootless recipes to try.

Watercress Soup

A bunch of watercress      Sunflower seeds
2 or 3 potatoes            Salt

Sauté pieces of watercress in oil for about 5 minutes. Add about 8 cups of water and the cubed potatoes, bring to a boil, lower the flame and add the sunflower seeds. Cover and cook about 30 minutes. Salt to taste at the end.  Watercress is very high in just about every mineral, especially iron, so if you are anemic it would be good to have some often.

Mushroom Noodles

Cooked noodles              Parsley
Fresh mushrooms             Soy sauce
Green pepper                Sesame oil

Sauté mushrooms, green pepper and parsley in sesame oil about 10 minutes.  Add cooked noodles. Mix together, add soy sauce and cook about 5 minutes more.

1The Surangama Sutra(Leng Yen Ching) trans. by Charles Luk. Rider&Co. London, 1966, p.164

Meet the eminent Buddhists of the past, present and future in the feature articles, The Bodhi Seal, The Bodhi Mirror, and The Bodhi Lectern. VBS will continue introducing the Patriarchs, virtuous Sanghins, and worthy Laymen in each issue. Watch for them.