It has been raining off and on and I decided the weather was perfect for sorting and posting more Roaring Creek pictures as promised in From Camping to Couture, the YWAM Roaring Creek Belize Experience. As I went through my stock, I got thinking about when Governor General of Belize Sir Colville Young took the podium. He greeted us with kind words and a warm friendly smile. Then he proceeded to tell an old Buddhist parable about long silver chopsticks, and Heaven and Hell that went something like this….
An old man wanted know what Heaven and Hell were like, so he went to see the wise man in his village and asked to be shown. The wise man took him to a large banquet hall, inside was filled with large tables piled high with delicious food. Around the tables sat miserable, starving people, each one with a pair of extremely long silver chopsticks. The two watches on as the hungry people tried to feed themselves, but due to the length of the chopsticks, they could not reach their mouths and all the food kept falling to the floor, causing their miserable moods. The old man now understood what hell was like.
The wise man led him towards Heaven and again the old man found himself in a large banquet hall with tables piled high with the same delicious food he had seen in Hell. Around the big tables sat people with the same long silver chopsticks, but instead of being hungry miserable, they were happy and laughing. The man immediately understood the clear difference between Heaven and Hell. The people in Heaven were giving each other helping hand, with their too long chopsticks. By feeding the person across the table from them, everyone was well fed and enjoyed their meal in harmony.
The moral of the story is a simple one, and a good message to consider for the start of a new year. Heaven and Hell can be seen here and now and are direct the results of our interactions with the world and specifically, with those around us. A person can find ‘Hell’ anywhere there is unrest such as selfishness, hunger, crimes, even war. Where there is a spirit of generosity, happiness and peace, that can be called ‘Heaven’.
Life is what you make of it. Given the same obstacle a group of people who treat each other well will create a joyful and pleasant environment. Whereas a group of people given the same challenge can easily create a living hell simply by how they end up treating each other. We all have the opportunity to use what we are given, our version of the the long silver chopsticks in the story to help each other and make each others life easier.
It was very clear why he chose that story. That weekend was all about cooperation, teamwork, and art of working together toward a common goal.
Interesting fact on The History of Chopsticks from Smithsonian Magazine:
During the Chinese dynastic times, silver chopsticks were sometimes used because it was believed they would turn black if they came in contact with poisoned food. This practice must have led to some unfortunate misunderstandings, now known that silver has no reaction to arsenic or cyanide, but can change color if it comes into contact with garlic, onions, or rotten eggs, all of which release hydrogen sulfide.