If eating or fasting leads to enlightenment,
the greediest and the hungriest would long be enlightened.
A long time ago, a fool was invited to a neighbor’s house to share a meal. Once the food was served, the fool was displeased because he found the food tasteless. His neighbor noticed this and immediately sought to remedy the situation by offering the fool some salt.
After the fool sprinkled a bit of salt onto his food and took a bite, he said to himself, ‘The salt has really made the food quite tasty. If such a small amount of salt has had such an effect, just imagine what a lot of salt will do!’ To his neighbor’s astonishment, he pushed his meal to the side and began to eat the salt all by itself. Of course, it wasn’t long before the foolish man had burned his mouth, and instead of being delighted he groaned in pain.
A person who misconstrues the Way of Understanding is just like this fool. He hears that by eating and drinking less, the Way may be gained, and so he fasts for seven or even fifteen days. He ends up starving himself in vain and realizes nothing of the Way. Consider this carefully and you’ll find it is so.
A Flock of Fools: Ancient Buddhist Tales of Wisdom and Laughter from the One Hundred Parable Sutra
Translated and retold by Kazuaki Tanahashi and Peter Levitt
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