No matter what monastery it is, the kitchen work is bound to be hectically busy, toilsome and impolite. In a large monastery where many people have to eat, kitchen work is especially difficult. If the food is too delicious, people will complain that it makes it hard to cultivate. If the food isn't so good, everyone gets upset. If the kitchen makes a little too much food, it is criticized for being wasteful and making mistakes in cause and effect. If it doesn't prepare enough, people can't eat their fill and there will also be complaints.
Even if we don't consider everyone's opinions, it's a fact that the kitchen staff is busy from morning till night, without a moment's rest. Jun Kang Restaurant is no exception. There is always a wok for deep-frying, a pot for soup, and a wok for stir-frying, which are hot on the stove and ready to go. When there are many customers, the kitchen becomes hot and hectic.
Everyone likes leisure, and no one likes work. For that reason, most people don't want to work in the kitchen. They'd rather choose an easy and relaxing job.
Let's consider the great monks of old, such as the Sixth Patriarch. During the eight months he stayed at the East Mountain Monastery of the Fifth Patriarch, Great Master Ren, he worked in the kitchen the whole time. The Venerable Weishan [founder of the Weiyang Lineage of the Chan School] started out as a kitchen manager. The Venerable Yangshan's [second patriarch of the Weiyang Lineage] job was to haul firewood. Chan Master Xiangyan, the disciple of Patriarch Baizhang who had ten answers to a single question, had the job of chopping wood. Chan Master Fahai carried water from the well up the mountain. Great Master Mazu, who made vegetables seasoned with oil, salt, and soy sauce without fail for thirty years, the two Great Masters Hanshan and Shide, and many others all accomplished their cultivation by working in the kitchen. After serving the assembly for a long enough time, one accrues merit. If one has keen faculties and is constantly vigorous, then in the midst of all the chores, one may very well awaken to the nonproduction of dharmas, and then one can freely and easily teach and liberate other living beings.
As for the lazy ones, throughout lifetimes and eons they continue to be idle and eat food that they haven't worked for, not realizing that they are in the sea of birth and death, getting born and dying over and over, busy without end.
Ultimately, who is busy and who is idle? And who is that ‘who’?So why should we complain that kitchen work is too hard? Why should we try to find an easy job? All good advisors! If you can understand this principle, this is right where it's at. My verse goes like this:
The oil cauldron, the soup pot, and the frying pan
Contain the planets of the universe within them.
There are vegetables, tofu, and carrots
Enough to feed the worlds of the ten directions.