The Uni­verse in a Bowl of Mush­room Soup

Special Focus - - Contents - Yu Dan

Iwas for­tu­nate enough to be ac­quainted with Grand Mas­ter Hs­ing Yun. In Da­jue Tem­ple of Yix­ing City, when I had my first meal, the starter soup was white, creamy, and aro­matic. I al­most choked on its de­li­cious taste when I took the first sip, and the root of my tongue melted with joy in­stantly. “Mas­ter, what soup is this?” I asked in as­ton­ish­ment.

“Just some types of mush­rooms.” The Grand Mas­ter smiled.

“How could mush­rooms yield such a fla­vor?”

“As a Bud­dhist monk, we sel­dom fry food, and nei­ther do we use too much oil or soy sauce when cook­ing. But we do have suf­fi­cient amount of time, and we are will­ing to take time to sim­mer food in wa­ter and bring out the orig­i­nal aro­mas of the in­gre­di­ents. For this mush­room soup, for in­stance, the sim­mer­ing process started last night, and each kind of mush­room was put into the soup at a dif­fer­ent time, and when the soup was ready, a hand­ful of ground white sesame was added.” Grand Mas­ter said, still smil­ing.

At that mo­ment, with a sense of Zen em­brac­ing me and the aroma of food lin­ger­ing in my mouth, I felt my taste buds. They were rather in­sen­si­tive due to the daily ex­po­sure to deep-fried fast food, MSG, and chili pep­per, but with each bite of soup, they grad­u­ally be­came smooth and del­i­cate again.

Af­ter the meal, I left the tem­ple for a walk along Cloud Lake. There, ver­dant bam­boo formed a thick for­est in which mosquitoes were fly­ing around. In the blink of an eye, red and itchy mos­quito bites cov­ered my hands and feet. “Mosquitoes here are hos­tile to new­com­ers. I got all these bumps prac­ti­cally right as I stepped out­side, yet the lo­cals don’t get bit at all.” I com­plained

Much was gained be­cause of his wild dream.

He has come to learn so much— such as when the baro­met­ric pres­sure is high, fish tend to be hun­gry be­cause of am­ple oxy­gen. High pres­sure means the fish will be ea­ger to take a bite. He ex­tended this to his busi­ness as well. In his busi­ness he would al­ways use knowl­edge of as­tron­omy to pick such a day to make it eas­ier for ne­go­ti­a­tions se­lect a day dur­ing astro­nom­i­cal tides when­ever he wants to in­spire his em­ploy­ees.

Later I learned that his busi­ness was so suc­cess­ful that he could eas­ily pur­chase ten tons of groupers.

Of course, fish­ing is not a high-end sport. How­ever, such a lit­tle hobby can be an en­try to another world. As long as there is a small mat­ter that in­ter­ests you so much that you don’t even con­sider its util­ity, you might be­come a use­ful per­son in some com­pletely un­fore­seen way while en­joy­ing the charm­ing and po­etic side of life.

For ex­am­ple, you can be fond of car­pen­try so much as to spend all the time you have in or­der to make a per­fect stool. Or you can be buried into in­sect photography, crouch­ing for three days in the for­est to cap­ture an ex­u­vi­a­tion. You can also be keen on cook­ing so earnestly that you take de­light in search­ing Thai­land for the per­fect spice to cook a de­li­cious Tom Yum soup. What’s more, your pas­sion for cal­lig­ra­phy may drive you to prac­tice Ji­ucheng Palace, a fa­mous copy­book by Ouyang Xun, over ten thou­sand times. And you might even cover the en­tire An­cient Tea Horse Road, on foot, just to get a taste of a fra­grant tea.

All of those things do not re­quire quit­ting your day job and get­ting on the road. You won’t have to save ev­ery penny. As soon as you have an idea, you can put it into ac­tion. I can’t say that ev­ery per­son that acts such a way is re­ally in­ter­est­ing, but at least they are in­wardly rich when alone. They won’t need to feel their ex­is­tence by be­ing with troops of friends or go­ing to par­ties and get­ting wasted, for their mind is al­ready oc­cu­pied by all those men­tallyab­sorb­ing hob­bies.

I be­lieve that ‘to wait for a blos­som with a great deal of pa­tience and smiles’ is of vi­tal mean­ing of life.

( From Wait­ing for A Blos­som, Beijing United Pub­lish­ing Com­pany. Trans­la­tion: Xu Chaolan)

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