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a new point of view: jeong kwan, the philosopher chef

April 15, 2017 , , , , , , ,

Father: “A woman must be able to cook 7 dishes with straw. When she can do that, then she is worthy of a husband.”

Girl: “This idea fills me with anger! Why should it be so? I don’t want to marry if this means I sacrifice my self-worth and love of cooking. I want to live on a hill, all alone, where my soul will be free!”

Father cries. Tears slide down his cheeks.

Girl looks up at him in amazement. “Father, why do you cry?”

Father: “Why should such a young girl say such things? It gives me such grief.”

Girl: “Why should I not say the thing which gives me the greatest joy?!”

When this girl was 17 years old, her mother died suddenly, and she was faced with immeasurable loss. She did not want to cause that depth of pain to any of her own children. But even more so, she wanted to live a life of true freedom. She walked up the hill, to the monks’ monastery, step by step, cool mountain air. She walked with no belongings, no possessions, no things. Nothing, in the truest sense of the word, except her very self.

A old monk met her at the entrance of the monastery. “My daughter, have you come here to live?”

She looked up with joy and surprise. “Yes! How did you know?”

The old monk nodded peacefully. “I knew in your presence.”

And this young woman thanked her mother for the grace of freedom, that in her passing, she was given full permission, in love, to live this life. That she should not mourn her mother’s death, but celebrate it with the beginning of her own life.

It is how you define joy that allows you to deeply recognise it. I wonder if I could recognise it in its most unexpected forms, like this girl with so much courage did.

This girl was Jeong Kwan.

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