Soul’s Banquet Hall

An Invitation to the Act of Contemplation

vignette by Fred Leeds

When asked about the most abstract truth of Buddhism, Zen folk sometimes tell you to just wash your bowl after you’ve eaten. Is this a relevant answer or not? Our wild, cycling passions – and the grand and anxious questions which veil them – could sometimes just use a quiet container, as food needs a bowl.

Just look at that now-clean bowl: How it gleams! Is it not a symbol of nature’s integrity, before extraneous hungers and doubts have arisen? There is another, more basic kind of hunger, which leads down a corridor to another kind of food. It is here that the appetites and their satisfaction, that doubt and belief, sit down to remember their friendship. For here a world of division is stitched into one, and the soul recovers its nourishment from within. Physical company and food still await in the usual, outer hall, but a soul must first partake of the food of self-reflection, that it might greet that world also as a friend.

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