I’ve been thinking more about the concept of embracing “immaturity” that I wrote about last time, and there’s a great little soup metaphor from the “Immature” chapter of the Dhammapada that further explains how we can take the knowledge that we are immature and use it to help break us free from our current state of immaturity.
“The immature who know they are immature
have a little wisdom. But the immature who
look on themselves as wise are utterly foolish.
They cannot understand the dharma even if
they spend their whole life with the wise?
How can the spoon know the taste of soup?
If the mature spend even a short time with
the wise, they will understand dharma, just as
the tongue knows the taste of soup.”
So the spoon is compared to the immature person, who is just too stubborn and impervious to his surroundings that he will never absorb the soup (i.e. the experience he is having, even though he is completely surrounded by it). The tongue, however, is compared to the wise person who is actually alive and completely engaged with the soup (or experience). The tongue is allowing itself to be permeated with the soup, so much so that it actually absorbs it and does know what the soup tastes like. The (immature) spoon will never know that.
Now, believe me, I’m the first one to admit that it can be a little scary to be a tongue. As early as Kindergarten, my report cards included comments about my personality like “conscientious,” and, “cautious.” I am well aware that it is a lot safer to be a spoon. The spoon is protected and is not phased by hot soup, but the tongue can be easily burned.
But our tongues (and our spirits, for that matter) are amazing things. They can change and grow and be healed. And life is meant to be lived and learned from, not just to be survived. If the tongue does get burned by hot soup, it will now know what it means to be burned, and maybe the tongue will be a little more careful next time. It can learn to take such precautionary measures as blowing on the soup to cool it down, or just being patient and waiting until the soup is ready to be tasted.
If we want to gain wisdom, we must be open to experiencing everything that our life brings us — not just running away from it because it seems uncomfortable. What if the tongue got burned by the first bite of hot soup and then decided never to eat soup again? That tongue would never know that a) soup can be quite tasty if you taste them at the right time, and b) that some soups are actually cold to begin with (gazpacho anyone?).
How many experiences have you run away from because you didn’t give them a chance? They just looked too scary to tackle. Go ahead and plug in whatever thing you’re avoiding in your life right now to this soup metaphor and really take a hard look at whether you’re embracing what life is handing you or if you’re avoiding it. It can be a tough pill to swallow, but you’re going to have to swallow it one way or another, so you might as well get it over with.
Okay, I’m done expounding on this soup metaphor. I’ll just leave you with a parting thought: if you want to gain wisdom, acknowledge that you are immature (not fully mature yet) and that you have much to learn, Daniel-son. Allow yourself to really feel your experiences, even if they are painful, and allow those experiences to teach you instead of allowing them to victimize you.
Otherwise, “No soup for you!” 🙂