Eating God. The Universal Principle of Conversion

Posted by on July 6, 2015

 

food

Photo Credit: Yao Xiang Shakya ©

Communion with the Doubter

By Yao Xiang Shakya, efh

I rise at 4:00 am to the sounds of a whimpering, hungry sick, old dog. Waking up in the kitchen I recall the question given to me, “Do people really believe that the bread and wine turn into the flesh and blood of Christ?” As I open each little amber bottle of medicine and place the many capsules into the bottom of his bowl I answer, “I certainly hope so! Just as I know these food supplements strengthen his heart muscle and boost his immune system.”

In the silence and darkness of the early morning I stand before the granite counter carefully placing each capsule, tablet, and spoonful of the powder into the empty dog bowl. With wholehearted effort I concentrate on the numbers and amounts as I mix water with his dog food into the dissolving granules. He sits close by in soft anticipation for what I offer him. He is hungry after a long night of restless sleep. I kneel down as he sits looking up at me and place his food bowl in front of him. He glances at his bowl and waits for my words. He sits in perfect form and looks up and does not move until I say the word, “Free.” I watch what has been a familiar ritual between us now for some seven years. I am relieved and happy to see him gorge and gobble down what is offered hoping it changes into his body and blood for the better.

“Conversion” I whisper, “is a universal principle. Everything converts.”

I don’t know for sure what the change will be but I do know the medications, his food and even the water will convert into something that is undying and timeless. Everything is recycled as if it is the first time. It is all fresh in the transfer from the bottom of the bowl to the bottom of his belly. I see his breath change, his cough diminish and his appetite strong. Change remains seemingly an unending truth. I am cheering for him as he eats his biscuits and drinks his water.

I hear the doubter say, “Well, that is the result of science! The pills are supposed to work. That is not the same as bread and wine changing into the flesh and blood of some dead guy?”

I laugh and unfold a thin sheet of paper and show the doubter the tiny print. It’s the many warnings and cautions that came with his medications.

“Read it carefully, you might change your resolute doubts.”

“Nothing is foolproof here.” I say looking the doubter right in the eye. “I don’t claim certainty. Just as you can’t claim it doesn’t become the flesh and blood. Certainty is not the nature of the universe. If it was, there would never be a plane crash. We’d make sure of it because we love certainty. But certainty has a real downside which is often overlooked.”

These remarks silence the doubter’s claims for just a brief moment allowing me to continue.

“Certainty kills our inner need to revere and know what is sacred. It makes us into smug nutters. It happens in science and it happens in religion. It leads to a sense of superiority. It sets off a domino effect of judgment where you forget that the measure you use to judge will be the measure used to judge you. You’re better off not getting involved in certainty such as wanting to know some narrow proof.”

Sighs of disgust arise. The doubter asks in a pugnacious tone. “What does this all have to do with the business of the bread and wine, and flesh and blood? HUH?”

“Yes. Well… I think you’d agree that it is very hard to tell whether the medicine works to prolong his life or whether it doesn’t. If you read the fine print, some dogs fall dead, rather suddenly from this medical cocktail. Pinpointing what actually happens despite the belief in the scientific method is ambiguous at best. No one can say for sure, at least about the results. It’s sophisticated guesswork, but guesswork none the less. It has to be. To be other than guesswork is to eliminate the laws of nature. But there is something we can say for sure! We can say for sure, conversion is a universal principle. We do know some conversion of what we eat and drink occurs. Change is a certainty. I don’t need a scientific method or even a scientific education to know that. In fact, science relies on conversion and so does religion. But this may be as far as we can go together, as far as science and religion can go together.”

The doubter looks up and I reply to his wide-eyed gesture. “I see I have your attention.”

“I reluctantly acknowledge that change is a law of nature.”

“Good. I’d be worried if you didn’t acknowledge it. SO…change in regards to the medicine I give my dog and the offertory of bread and wine all share the same law, it changes from one thing into another.”

“Yes.” The doubter sighs still willful.

“The question then seems to be in regards to the change into the body and blood?”

“Yes.”

“Well. I suppose I could ask you to prove that it doesn’t…how do you know it doesn’t? But you don’t need to answer it because you can’t prove that it doesn’t. Nor can I prove that it does using the same methods you use. I use different methods.  I do not use the imperfect but useful scientific method. Any scientist worth his salt would be curious enough to lay down his sword long enough to inquire about a different method. Wouldn’t he?” The doubter nods ever so slightly.

“A scientist who doesn’t runs the risk of being stuck in a paradigm. Kuhn in the 1960’s tried to shake up the paradigm shifts in science to be more revolutionary. It might be revolutionary for you to drop your scientific view and see for yourself a spiritual one. Surely, that is possible?”

“I am not sure that I can.” The doubter in halfhearted honesty shifts just a little.

“Fair enough. I am not trying to convert you, because I can’t anymore than I convert the medication I gave to my dog. He might be one of those who suddenly drop dead from this medicinal concoction? I don’t know and neither do you. The best we can do is to take a chance because we both realize the truth of uncertainty and the law of conversion.”

The doubter coughs. I continue.

“Proof, a verification of some sort actually results in statistical breakdowns. A certain percentage benefit and a certain percentage do not. For all I know you might benefit from my method and you might not just like the dog. It’s always a wait-and-see situation. We cannot get out of the laws of nature although we want to influence the change, but there are no guarantees. It’s not a matter of belief either. Science and surprisingly religion agree on this point. Both seek to act in hopes of a particular change to occur.  Both want to effect change in a particular direction. In the dog’s case, science wants to lower the death rate and increase the vitality of the dog.”

The doubter thinks.

I continue. “Are you with me?”

“Ummmm…”

“I am not surprised that you remain skeptical. Your methods have trained you to be doubtful. Fine. Fine. Fine.”

“It’s not apples and apples?” The doubter laments.

“Yeah. It’s not. “The method of religion is different than the method of science.”

“But you still look doubtful.”

“What is this method of religion you speak of…?”

“It is a mystical method.”

“Oh brother!”

“I didn’t say magical, I said mystical. It is the immeasurable, universal principle.”

“Sounds like boloney. What exactly is the method?”

“It’s an expressive, active method.”

“I don’t understand.”

“It’s the old saying the proof of the pudding is in the eating of it.”

“Are you saying you have to wait until the results to know if you got it or not?”

“Not exactly. Yes and no. It’s intuitive. Science waits to see whether the rat dies or lives. Religion knows death is inevitable. What I am saying is that you gotta do it yourself. Religion, the mystical  method is a do-it-yourself, sorta trial and error approach.”

“That sounds…”

“Difficult?”

“Yes. Well if you are after certainty and a formula and a surefire approach…yes, it would be difficult. But let me say out the outset it’s an adventure that requires a forfeiture of how you think it should go for how it is. It’s direct. It’s a solitary surprise of the nature of reality.”

The doubter covers his face with both hands.

“You look mystified.”

They both laugh.

I continue.

“The expressive, active method affords a large array of means. It’s a diverse approach, grand and magnificent. It’s closer to art than science but tends to use whatever is available. It makes us lucky. The luck is in the assortment which is a direct reflection of the Divine.”

The doubter shifts again, edgy with anticipation.

“Wanna try it? It doesn’t require much…hmmmm…specialization or apparatus.”

Doubtful the doubter assents to the query.

“OK. You are in luck. It’s up to you to actually do to try it. So here’s what I’d suggest. Take the question  “Do people really believe that the bread and wine turn into the flesh and blood of Christ?”  Keep in mind. If you have trouble remembering it, write it down and keep it with you. Ok so far?”

“Yes.”

“Wonderful. Wonderful. Rent the movie, Babette’s Feast and watch it. I recommend you watch in solitude, alone with just the question in hand.”

“That’s it.”

“Yes. This is what we Zen practitioners call taking the medicine. But just as in any regimen there are a number of medicinal selections. This is one. And just as I hope the medicine I give my sick dog helps him, I wish the same for you.”

The doubter sits up and remains quiet.

“I find it helpful to repeat the recommendation. I find it is hard to remember. Rent the movie Babette’s Feast and watch it. Watch it alone, in silence with your question. Remember, we have already discussed  the universal principle of conversion. So see for yourself. It’s the best and only way for you to know. OK?”

The doubter shifts as he searches for a pen and paper to write something down.

I end with…

“Good luck.”

[i]

 

 

[i] ©A Single Thread 2015, efh

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