When You Can’t Smell, You Don’t Get Hungry

A Head Cold Reminds Sifu Matt:
How Much We Eat is All About the Yummy Aromas

Dharma teaches us that craving creates a lot of suffering. When we work at eliminating or reducing our cravings, the amount we suffer is reduced too. This isn’t easy to do of course. A head cold gave him a little lesson.

So, recently Sifu Matt had a wicked head cold and couldn’t smell a thing. It was lunch time and he went to his favorite Chinatown restaurant, the Chi Cafe.

Normally, the minute he walks in, he smells so many delicious aromas it can be hard to choose what to eat because the mind is led around the cravings created by the nose making contact with all that great food. This day, however, nada. He couldn’t smell anything.

The waiter came and gave  him the menu and he looked at every page. In his head thinking, “what do I want?” over and over again. After quite a few minutes, he gave up. “Just bring me some Chinese Broccoli and Garlic Sauce please.” This is one of his all time favorite dishes.

The food comes and he eats but not very much. The waiter asks him if something is wrong. “You don’t eat very much. Everything okay?”

“Everything is fine. Just not very hungry today.”

The rest of the meal is boxed up to come home.

And it suddenly dawned on him what had happened.

“Normally, I’d eat the whole plate of food. I realized that because I couldn’t smell and couldn’t taste, I wasn’t very hungry. I ate enough to fill my belly and that was that. We eat more most of the time because of how good things smell. And how good things taste. So we eat too much, too often. When I couldn’t smell or taste, those sense doors were closed on the nose and on the mouth’s ability to taste, and so suddenly my craving went completely away!”

If only we could do that with everything we make contact with and not have to wait for a head cold to show us the way. It takes a lot of determination to see things just as they are without getting attached and letting cravings run our minds so hard, that we make decisions and take actions without considering, do I really need to eat all this, buy this car, worry about my manicure, over-work, run after that man/woman, spend too much money/energy and so on.

Thankfully, we have meditation to help get us there. And a head cold now and then doesn’t hurt either when we need a bit of a Zen stick to help wake us up.

Buddha at Sunrise at MABA by Ven. Kongmu


Author: Hillary Johnson

Improvisational documentary and fine art photographer.

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