Embracing the choice

October 12, 2009

While living at Zen Mountain Monastery this summer, I struggled with the quality of the food. I have a lot of knowledge about knowing where my food comes from and how, for example: Ginger from China is very likely to be highly toxic due to the use of a banned pesticide in the US, that non-organic bell peppers are highly sprayed, and Avocados are almost never treated and therefore are fine to eat non-organic. The list goes on.

For 3 weeks I struggled eating foods that looked and smelled desirable but at the same time deterred me due to certain ingredients and non-certifications. Every day I was sent to the kitchen to help prepare these foods that I felt were harmful and made me even more sensitive to the subject. I got to the point where I was angry about their shopping decisions and felt like I was forced to eat poison.

During sesshin I decided to bring it up with the teacher, Shugen Sensei. My question was how to cope with eating something that I felt was truly poisonous?

He said that eating is a choice.

In fact, Ghandi used that choice quite often to make a point. What’s more astounding is that once you realize this, and you consciously make the choice, either way, you stop being a victim and realize that you are empowered.

The Bhagavad Gita states that even non-action (non-eating) is a choice.

The next day when the food service came around, I made clear decisions ‘yes, I can eat that’, ‘No thanks’ and such but what changed was that I was now happy about it. I didn’t feel the internal conflicts anymore, the pressure I had created about the situation and YET I ate exactly what I had been eating before. The circumstances did not change, but instead of torturing myself with the choices I made (wanting something and not eating it because I know the ingredients or eating something I wanted and blaming them), I touched into what I wanted to do and I accepted that choice entirely, I embraced the choice and I didn’t look back.

How much happier would we be if we just accepted the choices we ourselves make. If we stopped complaining. If we realized our own power and left the victim mask drop by the wayside?

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