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"I take this food to stop all evil,
to practice good, and to
accomplish the Buddha way."
from the traditional Zen meal chant.

Buddhism began with a sweet. Having abdicated the life of royal luxury to seek the meaning of life, the Shakya prince Gautama Siddhartha wandered the wilderness with a band of ascetic extremists, wasting away until his limbs " were like the knotted joints of withered creepers" and his ribs pierced his skin. "Now I claim to have lived on a single bean a day," he later told a disciple, "on a single Sesamum seed a day–or a single grain of rice a day..." Yet, rather than glorify the success of austerity, Gautama went on to report "Never did this practice...or these dire austerities bring me to the enabling fits of superhuman knowledge and insight.." The disappointing self-mortification brought him instead to accept a small offering of boiled milk and honey. As every biography emphasizes, reinvigorated by physical energy and a sense of well-being, he then sat down under the Bodhi Tree and began the meditation that turned him into the Buddha, "the awakened one," a man who forever changed the world.

Abstinence from intoxicants is one of the five vows an ordained Buddhist must take every morning. On the other hand, the same logic that makes caffeine the drug of choice to those who are committed to focusing the mind, a cup of tea is still the first thing a visitor to any Buddhist monastery is offered. It could have been any beverage...examine the relationship of coffee to Islam, wine to Christianity...but cocoa did not exist in that part of the world at the time. For the Mayans it did and it became the drink of choice for focusing the mind to partake in spiritual excursions. Had chocolate been available to the Buddha, he might very well have chosen it instead of tea for it has all the properties associated with a good meditation. Its complex chemistry keeps the mind alert at the same time that it produces feelings of serenity, peace and bliss. Buddha's Delight!

The Buddha did not have the opportunity to take chocolate as a fortifying meal. You do. As the simple story of the Buddha's newly full stomach indicates, without nourishment we have no clear mind or strong body with which to perceive and understand reality.

Although your Buddha Bar is large, don't overindulge. Keep things in balance. Follow in the Buddha's footsteps. Take a little bit everyday and then sit down to meditate. Change the World.

Based on an article in Tricycle by Sandra Garson, food historian and student of Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche