January 15 – How Does It Taste? – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

“The more spacious and larger our fundamental nature, the more bearable the pains in living.” Wayne Muller

An aging Hindu master grew tired of his apprentice complaining, and so, one morning, sent him for some salt. When the apprentice returned, the master instructed the unhappy young man to put a handful of salt in a glass of water and then to drink it.

“How does it taste?” the master asked.

“Bitter,” spit the apprentice.

The master chuckled and then asked the young man to take the same handful of salt and put in in the lake. The two walked in silence to the nearby lake, and once the apprentice swirled his handful of salt in the water, the old man said, “Now drink from the lake.”

As the water dripped down the young man’s chin, the master asked, “How does it taste?”

“Fresh,” remarked the apprentice.

“Do you taste the salt?” asked the master.

“No,” said the young man.

At this, the master sat beside this serious young man who so reminded him of himself and took his hands, offering “The pain of life is our salt; no more, no less. The amount of pain in life remains the same, exactly the same. But the amount of bitterness we taste depends on the container we put the pain in. So when you are in pain, the only thing ¬†you can do is to enlarge your sense of things. Stop being a glass. Become a lake.”

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