Hunger Kills

I was ravenous, I couldn’t it eat fast

We had been fasting for five days.
The rice we ate had aged in a pot
for five days. Although, the cook
mixed in a little water before serving
it, it wasn’t warm. It tasted a bit odd,
but it wasn’t bad.

I tried to eat slowly, more mindfully.
I looked at the rice, and saw a grain
moving. “I’m hallucinating” I thought.
But no, tiny grubs crawled in the rice.
I felt queasy (a little nauseous,
but, also, full of doubts). Should I go
on eating? Was it right to kill those
grubs to feed me? I kept staring at
the bowl as if hypnotized.

“What’s wrong? You lost your appetite?”
asked the Roshi.

“Grubs are crawling in my rice.”

“So? They add flavor, and nutrients.”

” It’s wrong to kill.”

“Your teeth don’t know the difference
between dead or alive. Only the mind
kills. No mind, no killing.”

I started eating again very carefully,
avoiding the grubs.

My teacher bowed to me, “Very kind
of you! I suppose, you’re going to
take those grubs outside? I thank you
for feeding the birds.” He chuckled.

I forced myself to eat. I placed the
empty bowl on the mat, bowed, and
rushed outside to throw up.


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