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Meditation on Hard Boiled Eggs

Jun 21, 2008
I placed two carefully chosen, unpeeled hard boiled eggs in my favorite white ceramic bowl. These are very special eggs laid by free range hens who are not given steroids, hormones, or antibiotics, and are fed only organic or natural grains. While all of these features are important to me, what I like most is that each of the eggs in a carton of twelve is a slightly different color, in shades of green, pink and brown. I love opening the cartons at the store and marveling at the colors, picking the one carton that contains the most interesting and visually appealing assortment of hues.

I put the bowl with two eggs on my desk while I checked my email. One of the emails was from a spiritual group I belong to, and the topic was how to go about your meditation practice when you are unable to find a cushion or time to sit. I noted the topic and went on to check the rest of my email.

Then, realizing I was quite hungry, I turned to my eggs. The first one, a very pale, almost white color, cracked perfectly, one long crack almost halfway around the egg. I started peeling the first half, making sure I picked up the thin skin with the peel, as this is the trick to peeling an egg with the greatest ease. The first piece came off smoothly, and I was able to peel the entire egg with only six pieces of shell. When I broke the egg in half, the yellow center was perfectly positioned in the middle of the egg. This meant there were no bites without some part of the center in them. The taste was magnificent and I was in a state of bliss as I slowly consumed this perfect egg.

I took a sip of my orange juice and gazed lovingly at the second egg. This one was quite dark, a slightly speckled brown one. I cracked it carefully on the edge of the bowl, but hardly made a dent. Again I cracked it, much harder this time. This resulted in more of a dent, with many small cracks radiating from it. If I had been paying this much attention in my prior egg peeling experiences, I would have known I was already in trouble.

Sure enough, just peeling the first small piece of shell was a challenge. I could not find a tear in the skin, and so had to take the first piece off by itself, leaving the skin behind. I picked at the skin with my fingernail, finally tearing it enough to pull the skin off with the next small piece of shell. However, I was only able to get some of the skin with that piece. It seemed as though the skin was bonded to the egg with epoxy.

The shell itself was quite thick and difficult to pull off in pieces of any substantial size. The skin continued to cling to the egg, and many times I was pulling off layers of the egg white, resulting in a very unappealing finished product, full of pockmarks and scars. It took what seemed like forever to finally remove all the shell and skin, and when I poked my thumb in the middle to open this now quite homely egg, the center was not in the center, so half of the egg had hardly any yoke.

I consoled myself that at least the work was done and I could not enjoy this egg as much as I had the other one, but this was not to be. My first bite revealed this egg white to have a chalky, flaky texture, not at all like the wholesome, substantial texture of my first egg. And the taste was almost non-existent. I consoled myself with the yoke, which was quite good, and set the bowl with the egg shells to the side.

Then I remembered the topic in the email I had not read, the one about how to pursue my sitting practice when I do not have time to sit on my cushion. I picked up the bowl of shells and looked at them again. This time instead of egg shells, what I saw were my own thoughts. So many thoughts just about this seemingly insignificant breakfast. My first realization was that some of my thoughts that come up in meditation are like the first egg, they slide off effortlessly, skin and all. And others are very much like the second egg, they cling relentlessly, they have to be picked away in small pieces, and they take much of me with them, leaving holes and scars behind.

Then I looked at how much attachment I had to the perfect egg. It must be easy to peel, beautiful, just the right amount of yoke in each bite, the texture and taste pleasing to my palette. Just the sort of egg I would like my life to be like, rather than the second one, which was thick skinned, difficult, clinging, pockmarked, chalky, hardly any taste at all.

Ah yes, but what is one without the other? If both had been perfect eggs, I would have had no lesson from this morning meditation. I thanked the hens for their gift and set the bowl aside, leaving it on my desk for the day to serve as a reminder of all I had been given this morning.
About the Author
Kat Tansey is the author of Choosing to Be: Lessons in Living from a Feline Zen Master, which chronicles her journey back to health after a long illness by learning the art of meditation. For more about the book, go to: http://harmonicplanet.com/book
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