The mind is like tofu
February 07, 2014
Here's the short teaching I offered during our meditation minyan at my shul today. (Cross-posted to my From the Rabbi blog.)
I learned from my teacher Rabbi Jeff Roth -- who learned from our teacher Reb Zalman (Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi) -- that the mind is like tofu: it takes on the taste of whatever we pickle it in.
What marinade is your mind soaking in today?
Is it a marinade of resentment? She told me she would do that thing, and then she didn't, and now I feel betrayed.
Is it a marinade of anger? On the radio I heard someone from the political party with which I disagree, and now my blood is boiling.
Or is it a marinade of gratitude, of wonder, of readiness to serve in whatever ways the world will call forth today?
We all have recourse to all of these ingredients. Breathe in; and hold it for a moment; and as you exhale, wash the negativity away. Rinse the tofu clean. Once again it becomes plain, ready to take on the flavor of whatever marinade you choose.
As we pray in the morning liturgy: Elohai neshama shenatata bi, tehora hee -- "My God, the soul that You have given me is pure!" Every morning we awake to a clean soul -- a blank slate -- a mind like tofu, ready to take on whatever flavors we steep it in.
Modah ani l'fanecha: I am grateful before You.
Mah norah hamakom hazeh: what a wonder, what a miracle, is this very place, this very moment.
Hineni: Here I am, ready to serve.