A Bowl of Rice, A Flash of Thought


By Ning-jing    Translation by Yuan Man    Illustration by Amber Zhong

Bowl of Rice

Two young men were very upset over all the obstacles they had encountered in their career. Together, they went to seek advice from a meditation master.

They found the meditation master seated with his eyes closed. They posed their questions to him. After a long while, he answered them with only one seemingly simple statement: ”It’s just a bowl of rice.”

The two young men then went back to their office. One resigned and went home to plant his fields. The other one continued working in the office. Time flew by; 10 years passed. The young man who planted the fields became a very successful agricultural professional who used modern technology for high-efficiency production. And the one who stayed in the office was promoted to manager because of his hard work and consistent good performance.

One day, these two men met again. The agricultural professional said, “I understood the master’s words immediately: ‘It’s just a bowl of rice’ so why be attached to a single place? There are always other means. Why didn’t you resign after that?” The manager smiled and said, “Well, I thought that ‘just a bowl of rice’ meant be more patient, more understanding, and obstacles will soon pass.”

They decided to pay a second visit to the meditation master. The elderly master, as usual sitting in peace, regarded them solemnly for a long while, before giving them more profound advice: “It’s just a flash of thought.”

Life can be determined in a flash of thought. A flash of insight can transform everything. Once you’ve made up your mind to pursue a goal, just do it with all your heart. Action based on a moment of true insight contributes to a wonderful and successful life.