POEM: A Taste for Happiness

Dining with Kings and Queens
Courtly balls
Knightly duels
And priestly indulgences
You can avoid it all
If only you are happy
Eating beans

This short poem goes out to all of those people who feel conflicted about all the contradictions in , especially during election season; contradictions about and so-called “lesser evils.”  I find great comfort and in the project of simplifying my .  When it comes to and doing the right thing, I believe that the complexity of offers a vast array of temptations to disorder our collective lives by mis-ordering our .  In this regard, I see the value of simplification as keeping in proper order and priority a relatively few core , and not letting these be undercut by however tempting sophistication, pomp, and circumstance.  On a more practical note, I believe that leading a simple materially is a great aid in minimizing the myriad of temptations to introduce personal bias into issues of and .  The simple fact is that the less we require materially, the less that our resources and center will be challenged by material needs.

This poem was inspired by a Sufi story of Nasrudin who is eating a man’s diet of chickpeas and bread.  His neighbor, who also claimed to be a wise man, was living in a grand house and dining on sumptuous meals provided by the Emperor himself.  His neighbor told Nasrudin, “if only you would learn to flatter the Emperor and be subservient like I do, you would not have to live on chickpeas and bread.”  Nasrudin replied, “and if only you would learn to live on chickpeas and bread, like I do, you would not have to flatter and live subservient to the Emperor.”

Maybe you don’t think this story is worth beans.  Maybe this poem, my two cents, seems irrelevant.  But, I am in good company:

sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their into the temple treasury. Many people threw in large amounts. But a widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.  Calling his disciples to him, said, ‘Truly I tell you, this widow has put more into the treasury than all the others.  They all gave out of their ; but she, out of her , put in everything—all she had to live on.’ ” (Mark 12:41-44, NIV)

Do not be deceived: and , and , is not about and its many denominations; it’s about something much deeper, much richer.

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