Furious debates rage about unbalanced diets, malnutrition, and excessive nutrition. But is that all that nutrition is about?

 Just over twenty years ago, when my granddaughter was three or four years old, she was playing house, and I was deep in Zen meditation, when suddenly, I noticed the smell of banana juice. I opened my eyes to see my granddaughter with her hands empty but pretending to make juice with a mixer. I was consumed by curiosity over why I could smell banana juice.

 She must have finished making the juice, because she pretended to carry something with both her hands to the kitchen where my wife was preparing dinner. She held it out and said, “ Grandma, try this, it’s delicious.!” Too busy cooking to be bothered, my wife said, “Hisami, I’m busy. Go play by yourself.” But Hisami was so insistent that my wife pretended to drink the juice and then told her, “That really was delicious. Now go play with your grandpa.”

 Having been turned away, my granddaughter came over to me and I said to her, “Hisami, make some juice for me.” To which she replied, “Grandpa, you want some too? Okay, I’ll make some more.” She began pretending to make the juice, and the smell of banana juice returned.

 When it was done, I imagined drinking it. The aroma, sweetness, and refreshing coolness were so superb that it was truly as though a drink from heaven. It was so good that I asked, “Hisami, could I have one more cup of juice?” I was surprised when she regretfully replied, “There’s no more bananas.” The reason I was so surprised was that, even though I thought the juice was banana juice, I had never said so.

 In her own mind, Hisami was making banana juice. But what does this strange coincidence suggest?

 I thought a bit about meals and nutrition and pondered on just what nutrition was. People live by consuming a nutritionally balanced diet that includes vitamins and minerals, vegetable fiber, calcium, iron, manganese, sodium, potassium, and magnesium, etc. And in recent years, the popularity of nutritional supplements has reached preposterous levels. But I wonder if this is really the correct direction in which to proceed.

 Ever since experiencing the “imaginary” juice that my granddaughter made, I have been thinking about the subject of nutrition. If overly acidic substances and overly alkaline substances were bad, then neutral substances would be good. And if neutral substances were good, then would it not be correct to say that any neutral substance, though it may not even be fit to be a poison or a medicine, is good?

 If you then wanted to give those substances nutritional value, all the person eating would have to do is to sincerely believe that it is delicious and sincerely want to assimilate it as a nutrient. I would therefore say that the reason you may have big eaters who are thin is because they simply eat to fill their stomachs and not to assimilate what they eat as nutrition.

 If people are grateful for their meals, they will be nourished by what they find delicious and consciously wish to assimilate it. In the same way, I am thoroughly convinced that if people are grateful when they hear something worthwhile and meaningful, and consciously remark that what they hear is something wonderful and beneficial to them, their hearts will be nourished, and their spirits will grow to be well-rounded and complete.


 


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