November 11, 2018

Food for Thought

On the way to “Wat Buddha Thai Royal Kathin Celebration,” I was listening to a lecture about “predestination” in Christianity. Some Christians apparently believe that some are predestined to go to heaven and some to hell. In fact, it’s not just about the afterlife; all the fortunes and misfortunes in our lifetime, according to predestination, have nothing to do with our behaviors. In other words, you could live virtuously all your life and still be unlucky. This idea seems counterintuitive and cruel but makes a lot of sense. If you act virtuously in exchange for going to heaven or for good fortunes, it’s not actually virtuous; it’s just a commercial transaction. By accepting that your behavior has no bearing on your destiny, you can finally identify truly virtuous behaviors.

I then stumbled across a roll of cash on the ground. It contained only two dollars but I felt lucky.

I arrived at the colorful temple full of people inside and outside. I had no idea there was a such a thing as Thai Buddhist temple in New York City. Many people were running back and forth preparing to serve food. (They have a large kitchen in the back.) They had a donation box but nobody was attending to it, so even if you gave generously, nobody would know. The food is free, so the line moved fast. (In most situations like this, what slows down the line is the financial transaction at the end.) You really could walk in there and eat as much as you want for free, including a wide range of desserts. Sure, you can donate but you wouldn’t feel good about it because nobody is watching you. The fact that nobody was watching works the same way predestination does; if you have to be recognized (even by a random person) for your virtuous behavior, it’s not really virtuous. It makes you realize what “virtue” actually is.

After I left the festival, I realized that I dropped those two dollars somewhere at the temple. It was strange since I rarely ever drop anything. I could not help but wonder what it means.

#thaifood #buddhism #buddhisttemple #temple #queenseats #nycfoodie #nycfood #predestination