(contemplation before eating)
Once upon a time
a short while ago
this food was earth.
Just like the kind we walked upon a few minutes ago:
dust, plants, microorganisms and water
that soon will become the cells of our body
the molecules of our smiling lips
the fibers of our muscles
our nerves that produce sensations
and our brain that generates thoughts.
Tell me, Earth:
Where is the exact point
when you cease to be you
and begin to be me?
These teeth that chew
are themselves Earth.
Who then is eating whom?
May we eat in a way that nurtures gratitude, peace and compassion
for the benefit of the Earth and all its faces.
May we see beyond the illusion of separateness
and recognize our true nature.
– Bar Zecharya
This poem was written during a Wake Up retreat in Bologna, Italy, in 2012. The Sangha had just returned from walking meditation in the countryside and had sat down for a simple and tasty meal together. Thay’s Dharma talks during the previous winter retreat at Plum Village were also a strong influence.