The Mirror of the Mind

There is a story that reminds us how crucial it is that we take responsibility for what we ourselves contribute to the problem, rather than laying all the blame for our harmful food systems on others – or waiting for someone else to fix the problem.

This story tells of a king of a small, remote kingdom in ancient Tibet. In this kingdom, mirrors were extremely rare – practically unheard of. Yet somehow the king managed to acquire a hand mirror, and picked it up one day as he was talking to his faithful old servant. The king took a good look at himself in that mirror, and was not pleased by what he saw. It seems this king was a singularly unattractive man. He felt thoroughly disgusted by the face staring at him from his mirror. He tossed the mirror aside and exclaimed, “Who is that ugly man? I don’t ever want to see him again! Banish this mirror from my kingdom!”

The servant could not keep silent at this. After all the years he had spent gazing on the king’s unattractive face, he seized this opportunity to say: “My Lord, I have had to look at you all these years. I do not have the option of just banishing the mirror!”

Like the king in this story, we seem to have a tendency to look at others, but not want to see ourselves. There is a saying in Tibetan: “To see others, you need a pair of eyes. To see yourself, you need the mirror of your own mind. ~ 17th Karmapa

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