Bulent's Notice to Cooks is displayed in the kitchen at Chisholme and is read before undertaking the preparation of food.
It is also an integral part of esoteric training because it is a two-fold means of service: service to humanity and service to the food prepared.
There is no higher state than that which a man can reach; all other forms of life in this world find their possibility of reaching a higher state through their conjunction with man. The only possibility for the sublimation of some minerals, vegetables and animals in a higher state of life is through cooking. That is why the sect which has aligned itself to the great saint Jalaluddin of Rum, the Mevlevi, refer to the esoteric education of the novices as cooking, and to achievement as taste.
Those who use ingredients of food without consideration of providing the best possible means of an ingredient’s expression are devaluing service, awareness and value of life.
Therefore, cooking is not a mixture of ingredients but a harmonious composition of artistic value, nutrient and transcendent, giving the possibility of the best expression to the ingredients as well as to the composition in general. It should be undertaken only in an attitude of deep respect and consideration and full awareness of the bounty and clemency in the Divine order.
Note - that there is no expression of divine manifestation devoid of beauty. Beauty of taste (dhawq) is an absolutely necessary ingredient of the essential (in all senses) composition. Had it been in the Divine order of things that mankind should graze, there would have been no need for cooking at all, but such not being the case, it is erroneous to think that all value in vegetables is only in a raw or under-cooked ingestion. Therefore certain fruits and vegetables have to be cooked properly before they can be eaten. The human being has neither tripe nor crop. Hence it is an incalculable error to think mankind could or should imitate avian or bestial mores.
Know then, that cooking is a responsibility in awareness wherein under-cooking or over-cooking are equally reprehensible and a clear oversight.
May the help (himma) of the great saint who was Rumi’s personal cook till his death, Shamsuddin Ateshbaz Wali, be upon you who undertake to serve in this kitchen."
Bulent Rauf (1911–1987) founder of The Chisholme Institute
Photo © Maria Young
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Listen, O dearly beloved! So starts one of Ibn 'Arabi's best known pieces of writing.