April 24th, 2017
People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive…
The mind has to do with meaning. What’s the meaning of a flower?… There’s no meaning. What’s the meaning of the universe? What’s the meaning of a flea? It’s just there. That’s it.
And your own meaning is that you’re there. We’re so engaged in doing things to achieve purposes of outer value that we forget that the inner value, the rapture associated with being alive, is what it’s all about.
For many years, I wanted to quit teaching wild foods. I wanted to focus instead on what I feel is truly important, namely, questions like: Who are we? What is God? Why are we here?
I had begun to find answers to these questions; see Part One of my book-in-progress, Love & Curiosity. Then gradually, I realized that foraging — true hunting and gathering — embodies them.
Finding the meaning of life — and solving all the world’s “problems” in the process — is about simply being happy to be alive. Being happy to be alive means feeling AT HOME in this life. To feel at home, you have to answer the question, Is the universe a friendly or an unfriendly place? In other words, is life good?
Another thing I’ve learned is that you can’t just answer these questions in your head. It doesn’t matter what you believe. To really know the truth, you have to experience it. And wild food can be one way to do it.
What I have found through foraging is that The Garden of Eden is alive and well, all around us. We have all the food, shelter, love — everything we need right here.
To experience this abundance, there’s no belief required. It’s said that the Buddha once summed up his teaching in one word: “awareness.” When you see things with your own eyes, not your beliefs, the answer is obvious: life IS good. We live in a loving world.
In one well-known sermon, the Buddha did even better than one word: he simply held up a flower. Imagine how you would feel if you were sitting in the audience. Most people didn’t get it. As tradition has it, one man smiled. He went on to found Zen.
There’s a word for the feeling you get when you look at something beautiful: awe. Or better yet, ahhhh. This is why the logo for No Taste Like Home shows Dorothy holding a flower. The flower she holds, a poppy, isn’t even edible. That’s because we don’t live on bread. Period. We live on the beauty that is life, even with all the starvation, the sickness, the killing… you name it.
To be enlightened, if only for a moment, just look at something beautiful. If that’s not enough, try a small dose of psychedelics. The feeling of awe, of grace, of being blessed with abundance, is what I believe. It’s why I still teach about foraging. This, to me, is the real world: not wishful thinking. When you wake up to the truth, the nightmare ends, and life is a dream once again.