Any experience, even simply going to a restaurant, can create new beliefs about how you want to live your life.
I have read in many different cultural and religious texts not to take any moment in life for granted, as all experiences can be opportunities to learn about yourself and world around you. Recently I went on a trip to Melbourne, Australia and while I was there I had two very memorable experiences, both in restaurants. I love going out to eat anyway, but these two events were both what I believe to be extraordinary, as neither had ever happened in my life previously. Let me tell you a little about what went on in this strange place we call planet Earth.
The first restaurant I went to was with my brother and was called ‘Lentil As Anything’ (www.lentilasanything.com), which is a play on words based on an old Australian rock band called ‘Mental As Anything’. All food is vegetarian, which is great for me as for seven years I have fit into this classification, although I’ve started to eat fish recently for health reasons. The thing that shocked me here was that menu had no prices. On back of menu were words, ‘Pay what you feel’, then owners went on to tell you ideas behind this concept. In same vein as Hindu belief of karma patron is urged to give equally in monetary value what they feel meal is worth to them. I think main idea is that they want to create a more traditional human relationship with customers instead of a purely capitalist consumerism type of connection. Much of our society has shifted to a focus on acquisition of money as of ultimate importance, and interaction between people is relegated to being simply a ‘meaningless’ transaction.
Well you probably want to ask me, ‘How long has this restaurant existed? Do they make a profit?’ The answers are: The restaurant has been around for years, and as they have opened a second storefront in a separate location, I ‘d have to believe that they are doing just fine. I ate an entrée of breads and dips which was very tasty, followed by best lentil burger I’ve ever had in my life (I’ve had many), and I drank a chai tea which unfortunately wasn’t very good that day. When I went to pay, a lot of questions entered my mind like, ‘How much should I pay? Should I give a lot so I’m not perceived as being a Scrooge? Could I pretend that I haven’t got much money? Do homeless people come in here to get a free meal? The realization I had after I paid was that in this age-old trading process one’s conscience is tested. You want to walk away from experience happy, and you would like for restaurant owners to feel that they got their fair amount for their services. A feeling of trust, respect, and unity is given to this relationship, where you might even feel that your honor is being tested. This is altogether a very different human connection when compared to many modern fast-food ideologies that are pervading our local environment.
In my last article entitled, “The power of meals’ I emphasized importance of what we eat, how and whom we eat with, and even relevance of how person who was cooking food felt emotionally. In a consumer situation should any of these factors become irrelevant? Eating is one of few imperative actions that every human must do if they want to exist in our world. Why not make experience as sacred as all other important rituals and beliefs that we partake in?