The Universe in a Bowl of Mushroom Soup
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)