Rice is a staple.
A staple is an important part of something like a thin piece of wire that holds two or more things together. It is an essential food. Rice holds body and soul together for over half the global population.
Rice is not to be snubbed. It is important.
When we are encouraged not to lose even one grain of rice we are being nudged to look after a staple that holds millions of lives together around the world. This is a material fact making rice an essential ingredient of keeping many alive.
In Zen Buddhism the teachings are pointing to both body and mind with the Mind being in the lead. If we consider this teaching as significant as that apple that klunked the head of Newton awakening in him the knowledge of gravity. What would we awaken to in finding and losing one grain of rice?
At the very least, our attitude about the teaching takes on the importance of endless possibilities. I say endless possibilities because we are all contemplating or not contemplating things in the mind. It may, for example, when a grain of uncooked rice skitters away on the kitchen counter that we realize we have been far away in a dream or a wish in the mind. The wayward grain may awaken us to being in the kitchen, preparing rice to give to others as well as to our own bodies. It may, as another example, when a grain of cooked rice is stirred that we realize that cooking changes the grain of rice in such a way that it no longer is separate and no longer able to skitter off by itself.
How do we get cooked up with the Supreme Self?
To Reach One Thing is To Reach All Things. It is the All-Things-Realization. Nothing is left out; one grain of rice found, one grain of rice lost.
The grain of rice, whether we take care not to lose it or take care to find it, is realization. The smallness or bigness of a thing is not the measure of realization. The grain of rice, whether lost or found, contains the whole shebang. The activity of losing and finding is the Way.
There are many, many more discoveries to awaken us when our attitude about a teaching is important to us. When we know all things, even a grain of rice, comes to awaken us to the immeasurable, immutable and ineffable Way Seeking Mind. We see through to the underlying, invisible discovery that is always there in all things.
When we know this, rice is more than a staple, it is a spiritual gift.
Author: FaShi Lao Yue
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Don’t Lose One Grain of Rice. It is a teaching from a sutra by a 12th century Zen Master, Dogen. The complete sutra can be found in this Practice Book on page 64: The Tenzo’s Prayer