Choosing chocolates and missing out

Choosing chocolates and missing out October 6, 2017

Bianca Marton chocolates 120517This is not your week to run the Universe. Next week is not looking so good either. ~ Susan J. Elliott

I am somewhat of a chocolate connoisseur, and so when I find companies that make high quality vegan chocolates I get very excited. Bianca Marton are one of those companies. They also make delicious caramel chocolates which are even rarer in the vegan world.

The last time I ordered myself a small box of their exquisite handmade chocolates, I wrote in the instructions that I needed the chocolates to be vegan and alcohol free but I also really liked caramel and praline chocolates. I also ordered another little box of six caramel chocolates, just to be on the safe side.

When the box arrived, I opened it and I was disappointed to find that it was full of caramel and praline chocolates, just as I had asked for. I suddenly missed the passion fruit chocolate from last time, and the rose and violet creams. I missed the one flavoured with real coffee. I missed the surprises.

I understand why I wrote the note. I’d enjoyed the single caramel chocolate in my last box so much, I’d wanted to completely control my experience of the next box. I’d wanted to cling on to that pleasure and intensify it. I’d wanted to avoid the slightly less enjoyable orange chocolate. Buddhism tells us that this is what we do – we pull what we enjoy towards us, and we push unpleasant things away. We behave as if it is possible to manipulate the world to suit us. We don’t only want to keep the bad stuff away, but we want more and more good stuff – ten caramel chocolates, fifty! If only we could get the instructions right, and if only we could get everyone to listen to us properly and obey…

My attempt at complete control of my chocolate-eating pleasure led me to an impoverished experience. When we are too specific about what we want, this is what happens. We can see this playing out in other mundane examples – when we have a specific top in mind when we go shopping, and so we miss the ones that would look equally good on us – or in major ways, as when our list of requirements for future partners excludes all human beings.

I am more able to enjoy the world as-it-is when I feel less anxious. I am more able to deal with surprises, and be flexible with my plans. I trust that I will be looked after. When friends cancel I think, “oh, that gives me a chance to read my new novel” rather than “maybe she hates me”. When a colleague gets the praise I was hoping for, I can feel pleased for them and know that my work also has value.

What helps me to feel less anxious is taking refuge in Amida Buddha. I have a place to rest where I don’t have to worry about how much good stuff I’m going to get. I don’t have to defend myself against all the difficult things that will undoubtedly happen, today or tomorrow or next week. I know that I will be okay, even when I’m not okay. I have a way of reminding myself that I am not at the centre of the Universe, and that actually knowing this makes life more fun, not less. I remember the pleasures of giving, and the satisfactions of emptiness as well as fullness.

I can even be grateful for boxes full of creamy, delicious caramel chocolates. Namo Amida Bu.


Photograph by Satya Robyn

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