Buddhist writers and retreat leaders Jack Kornfield and Christina Feldman have created an inspiring and enlightening collection of teaching stories and parables. These resources for writers, teachers, preachers, and spiritual seekers of all types come from Eastern and Western traditions, from modern and ancient times, and from all religions including Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Sufism, Native American, and African. Here you will find numerous Zen stories, Sufi tales, vignettes from the Desert Fathers, Hassidic parables, and much more.
The stories are divided into three sections: "Opening to Possibilities" — emphasizing the inner work that must be done as we start the spiritual journey; "Finding the Way" as we try to negotiate the valleys and peaks on the spiritual path; and "Living Our Truth" where we bring compassion and other spiritual practices to the challenges of repairing a broken world. Kornfield and Feldman end the introduction with the following:
"We are delighted to share this book with you. It has grown out of many years of our own spiritual practice, our wanderings, difficulties, understanding, and teaching. We have developed a great love and respect for stories of the spirit. Sharing these stories is a way of sharing our hearts and our wisdom. We hope they bring you understanding and delight."
Here are two Zen stories as examples of what you will discover in Soul Food:
• "Zen students are with their masters at least ten years before they presume to teach others. Nan-in was visited by Tenno, who, having passed his apprenticeship, had become a teacher. The day happened to be rainy, so Tenno wore wooden clogs and carried an umbrella. After greeting him, Nan-in remarked: 'I suppose you left your wooden clogs in the vestibule. I want to know if your umbrella is on the right or left side of the clogs.'
"Tenno, confused, had no instant answer. He realized that he was unable to carry his Zen every minute. He became Nan-in's pupil, and he studied six more years to accomplish this every-minute Zen."
• "The whole family went out to dinner one evening. Menus were passed to all including Molly, the eight-year-old daughter. The conversation was an 'adult' one so Molly sat ignored. When the waiter took orders, he came to Molly last.
" 'And what do you want?' he asked.
" 'A hot dog and a soda,' she said.
" 'No,' said her grandmother, 'she'll have the roast chicken dinner, carrots, and mashed potatoes.'
" 'And milk to drink,' chimed in her father.
" 'Would you like ketchup or mustard on your hot dog?' asked the waiter as he walked away, taking the parents aback.
" 'Ketchup,' she called out. She then turned to her family and added, 'You know what? He thinks I'm real!' "