Thoughts. Experiences. Inspiration.

The universal responsibility of spaghetti bolognese

July 16, 2015 0

I generally eschew food photos because to be honest, they only fuel my attachment to the stuff and boy, do I have an attachment to the stuff! 🙂 but this picture, I have to post.

Food from my mum means many things to me. It is the salmon (sorry fish!) and gingko biloba that she steamed for me every day for a week before my Maths IGCSE exam.

It is the pastry that she turned into curry puffs every week for months once she discovered how to use an oven.

It is the singular pea she hid in chicken pies (sorry chickens!) that she would give money for to the lucky person who found it.

It is the prawn porridge (I don’t have to say it, do I?) she would make for me when I was feeling under the weather or the ABC soup she would serve with almost every meal.

It is the fact she has not cooked regularly for our family in over 10 years because she has been so busy serving food to everyone else.

Food is also how my mum taught me about universal responsibility and why I should be nice. And of all dishes, she used spaghetti bolognese to do it.


When I was a kid, I was a nasty bully to my siblings. After one particular episode, mum sat me down, handed me a sheet of paper and told me to think about spaghetti.

I was confused. You’re supposed to meditate on Buddhas, not bowls of food. She told me to think about the bowl of spaghetti. She said think about everything that went into making her spag bol and to write it down on the paper. She started me off – she had to chop the ingredients, cook everything and serve it at the table.

Before that, she had to shop for the ingredients. Someone had to harvest the ingredients which another person then delivered and displayed in the supermarket. But even before that, someone else farmed the ingredients and watched to make sure they grew well. Someone had to make the spaghetti; another person had to care for the chicken, gather the eggs, grow the wheat, grind the flour. Someone had to make the bowl; someone else opened the shop to sell the bowl. It went on and on like that…

When I was done with my list for just one bowl of spaghetti, I was pretty exhausted. And then I realised my mum was not really interested in the list after all. What she was trying to show me is that everything we do is connected to something and someone else, and through karma we are dependent on them and they are dependent on us. Something as mundane as eating a bowl of spag bol is the result of many people coming together; if I understood how deeply intricate our relationships are with other sentient beings, I would develop more gratitude in my life for everything and everyone around me and ergo, stop being a bully 🙂 therefore considering we have affinity with them, what choice are we going to make? Are we going to use our connection to create merit and/or positive karma, or more demerit and/or negative karma?

I know, it is a pretty intense lesson for a teenager.

I have not had my mum’s spag bol in nearly 10 years but when she brought over a bowl for me a few days ago, instantly this episode came to mind 🙂 thanks for the lessons ma, and for the spag bol too! 😉

Reflections and Teachings

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