Asleep, waking up, fully awake and sweet potato ‘noodles’

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Note: because this recipe is raw, it can go either way – towards being a savory ‘noodle’ dish, or a savory salad.

Here are the ingredients you will need:

4 large sweet potatoes (or yams) or several smaller ones – peeled and ‘spiralized’
2/3 to 1 cup fresh chopped cilantro
1 head of shredded cabbage (optional)
2 Tbs Lemon juice – add the lemon directly to the sweet potatoes as you cut them it will soften them and keep them fresh.
¼ cup Nama Shoyu soy sauce
3 Tbs miso paste or raw tahini
¼ cup sesame oil

Combine the miso, oil and soy sauce, and then pour over the potato (and cabbage if used) and mix well. If you use tahini you may need to add additional lemon or water to keep it liquid. I used miso paste instead of the raw tahini, it is just a matter of what you prefer, both are good. More images and reflections below.

A spiralizer is easier that this method… and they look more like noodles if you have one…
I always ask for help in my food journey, and pray for the knowledge and determination to keep myself healthy. Remember to eat vegetables and fruits of different colors everyday for your health! Marinate for 1-2 hours. Serves 8 people. And voila. Take a moment to lay it at the feet of your kitchen god.

Sometime I wonder about how it is that I spent so much of my life asleep, and how then I eventually ‘woke up’. The great poet Rumi wrote a poem on this topic…

This is how a human being can change:

There’s a worm addicted to eating grape leaves.

Suddenly he wakes up, call it grace, whatever, something wakes him, and he is no longer a worm. He’s the entire vineyard, and the orchard too, the fruit, the trunks, a growing wisdom and joy that doesn’t need to devour.

So I can remember when I was that worm. I remember when I just ate the grape leaves, no questions asked. Or to use another analogy; I realize now that I have been in a grand play, but not aware that I could have any role in it; I could be actor, actress, director, the lighting, or audience to name a few. I was not conscious of being ‘an actor’ in my life at all, instead just delivering my part as it was already written – without knowing I could interpret the part or have a viewpoint about it. Pretty unconscious I would say. No judgment, I was just asleep. Asleep as in believing the thoughts in my mind were true, instead of something that happens automatically with language. Asleep as in being the feelings I had; getting happy, sad, angry, and not noticing that those feelings are not ‘me’, they are just a passing state that comes and goes. It was as I was awakening that I became aware of the trap I was in. Trapped in a limited view of reality that went no farther than myself. In hindsight, now that I have woken up for the moment anyway I can say – those thoughts and feelings were not and are not reality. And what a relief it is to know that!

By some grace, I began to awaken to something larger and so much greater than my own self. It was because of the many moments of what I call ‘convergence’ that happened in my life and the extra-ordinariness those moments, calling and raising my attention through that fog of sleep that I began to see the whole drama, with myself in it. I began to be the audience. It was then I began to wake up – and notice that there were miracles happening in my life, extraordinary miracles. Waking up was not easy either – the dream state did not quickly or completely clear up. But it did. Slowly over time, and now I can look back and see how it happened. And still, even after all these years I notice that I am still asleep to something. I am now certain there have been lives before this one, before ‘me’, and yet the memories of those lives are still mostly invisible. So I walk through this life as ‘myself’, yet who am I really? Who was I before, and why now this body, why this life? And most of all, why is that person, who is me, behaving like that?

And by the same token, why should anything else be the way it is? And is it (reality) the way it is because we are still asleep? Are we waking up yet? Do oceans and rivers rise and holy temples flood because so many of us are just doing what we do with no thought or witness to our role in this extraordinary drama that is unfolding before our eyes?

This is when I notice the ‘sleepiness’ I still carry around. The state of being fully awake is not solidly present. I expect that when I finally get truly devoted to my practice I will come to be fully awake, stay awake, and see these things more clearly.

And, what does food have to do with all of this? I believe a compassionate diet helps us wake up. I will say I am often shocked when I see how so many people eat foods that will make them ill, when they eat so much the body will become ill from overload, and then after when so much is thrown away. Many of us in the West have no true experience of hunger. Many of us have never gone without. Fasting as an act of devotion can awaken our compassion for others. Muslims fast during the Month of Ramadan simply to know what hunger is, so that they can maintain their compassion for what it means to be human and suffer hunger. It is a required devotion to feed the poor during these days of fasting. When one understands what this hunger is, whether by choice or circumstance, I believe it becomes an act of non-compassion to overeat or waste food.

I think it was in the film ‘Vegducated’ I saw the footage of a large fishing boat just spewing out carcasses of fish that were caught and killed by accident, that were not even wanted for food. To me this wasting of life and food in the face of so much hunger is utterly devoid of compassion. Eating plant-based foods on the other hand is an act of compassion. For every vegetarian and vegan person out there, there are many lives saved, much violence averted and the possibility of radiant health and compassion is present. So eat your plants at every meal! These sweet potato noodles is another recipe that made me happy. It was so good, and literally made the inside of my belly feel good. I was awake for that one!

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