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Big piece

Big piece

Piece of chocolate cake.
(Photo by Ceyhun (Jay) Isik)

Why is it that we always feel as if
    we always get the short end of the stick?
It seems as if everyone else
    has it better.
They get the fancy car,
    win the lottery,
      have the big piece of cake . . .

Recently in the chow hall I was in line for lunch.
Someone in a wheelchair approached
    and I told him to skip in front of me.
They thanked me and I responded, “You’re welcome.”

I noticed that everyone seemed to have a huge,
    fluffy, dark, decadent piece of chocolate cake.
And I said to myself, “now watch how small
    my piece will be.”

What optimistic anticipation I had!

And sure enough, my piece seemed to have
    been mauled, trampled on, and dropped from
     a ten story building.

Just my luck! As I walked to the table
    I told myself, “Take it easy. Isn’t complaining what
     you’re supposed to steer away from?”
Isn’t contentment a rich enough nutrient to curb
    this passing desire?

Would I rather have a crumbing tiny piece of cake
    with two abled legs to walk and run on my own?
Or would I rather have a slab of cake too heavy
    for one hand, falling off all sides of a tray,
and be confined to a wheelchair with one leg?

In that moment, the confinement of complaining was lifted.
The crumbling desire was abandoned.
There is a flavor far more rich than chocolate cake.
A bliss which has no doors for the six misleading senses.

It is a vision that understands
    the eight mundane concerns.
Delicious nectar from the Three Precious Jewels
    whose path can be walked
     with two legs or not.

Venerable Thubten Chodron

Venerable Chodron emphasizes the practical application of Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. She is well known for her warm, humorous, and lucid teachings. She was ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1977 by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche in Dharamsala, India, and in 1986 she received bhikshuni (full) ordination in Taiwan. Read her full bio.

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