I no longer eat peanut butter or chocolate. It’s a miracle. This phenomenon does not have the quality of parting the Red Sea, nor the quantity of multiplying fish and loaves. This recent abstinence is more like receiving a great cosmic massage. Call it a Blessing, whatever; some stronger hand has interceded, mediating between my habitual behaviors and my best interest.
“No-chocolate, no peanut butter” is a transformation for me. Because of frequent illness, a doctor suggested, “What do you eat on a regular basis? If it’s routine, you could change your diet. For example, peanuts and chocolate are common allergens.”
“Regular basis” was an understatement. Peanuts and chocolate were my staples. Doubting Thomas arose in me, “Sure. Like I’m ever gonna give up my RDA of these two essential food groups.”
THE REALM OF THE HUNGRY GHOSTS- Where Hunger is Never Satisfied
I had been operating in what the Buddhists call the realm of the Hungry Ghosts, those strange creatures with pinhole mouths, huge round stomachs and long skinny necks. Cursed by ravenous appetites, the Hungry Ghosts eat and eat, but no food reaches the belly. They starve in the midst of plenty, never satisfied, never fed. Like them, I thought, “If one bag of peanut M&Ms is good, an extra hot fudge sundae with crushed peanuts would be better.”
We all have that voice which tempts, “a little is not enough.” The Hungry Ghost lives in all of us. But one hundred jars of Skippy and a gallon of hot fudge don’t satisfy.
WAKE UP AND ASK FOR A CHANGE
Maybe the solution to our emptiness is not in being full but in being fulfilled.
If so, we must find what truly nourishes and feed ourselves from that banquet. Self-promises tend to disappear the first time we want. Have you noticed?
And I wanted often. Recently, however, I took the advice of the Sufi poet, Rumi: “Wake up with the morning breeze and ask for a change.” I prayed to have my self-destructive will aligned with the will of a greater, healthier force. Then the Grand Masseuse graced me. Like a tight knot finally releasing on a massage table, like a tense muscle that stops its throbbing, I relaxed. With divine stroking, I now feel hope.
We can change. We can meet our hungers.
OUR PAST DOES NOT NEED TO BE OUR FUTURE
I know that my new freedom is intervention from beyond. If ego has its way, we do what we’ve done: breakfast on hot cocoa and peanut butter toast; lunch on PB&J sandwiches, with a few fistfuls of chocolate chips; demolish a few Reese’s cups at afternoon slump time. None of us puts down our drugs of choice easily. It seems we can’t loosen our grip without feeling held by something stronger.
I clung for decades, as I was teethed on rich sweets. When I shared hammock time with my younger cousins, our Pepere served us chocolate Hoodsie cups sprinkled with Spanish peanuts.
If I finished my serving of Memere’s roast beef, she rewarded me with bite-size Mr. Goodbars. Different traditions have different names for our addictions Buddhists call them great suffering: Hindus, the obstacle of greed; Christians, gluttony. The Hebrew word often translated as “sin” also means “to miss the mark.”
All religions point to the fact that when we feed ourselves anything that does not nourish the soul, we taste struggle.
SAYING YES TO LIFE
For many of us, it takes time to release. For me, it was years, as I had peanuts and chocolate interwoven with family love and being good. Until we separate the threads, we turn to familiar pleasures. And yet, we can’t say “yes” to what our lives have in store for us until we say “no” to what holds us back. We can finally move into the new by letting go of our outworn old.
It’s really true, “Miracles are God’s signature.” They arrive spontaneously and unbeckoned. And yet, what’s so freely given also requires moment-to-moment practice to maintain, with the on-going need to renew our intentions daily.
I’m usually not the believing-in-miracles type, except at dawn today I ate oatmeal with organic blueberries. No small matter. As I write tonight at my desk, I sip Sleepytime tea. With inner ghosts no longer hungry, and doubting Thomas quieter, I now know a paradoxical truth about our pledges to ourselves: miracles happen and then we plod along with the developmental work of keeping them sweet.