Most of the time when we eat a tangerine, we do not look at it. We think about many other things. To look at a tangerine is to see the blossom forming into the fruit, to see the sunshine and the rain. The tangerine in our palm is the wonderful presence of life. We are able to really see that tangerine and smell its blossom and the warm, moist earth. As the tangerine becomes real, we become real. Life in that moment becomes real.
Hahn revisits this idea in another book, discussing a conversation with peace activist Jim Forest:
“I remember a number of years ago, when Jim and I were first traveling together in the United States, we sat under a tree and shared a tangerine. He began to talk about what we would be doing in the future. Whenever we thought about a project that seemed attractive or inspiring, Jim became so immersed in it that he literally forgot about what he was doing in the present. He popped a section of tangerine in his mouth and, before he had begun chewing again. He was hardly aware he was eating a tangerine. All I had to say was, “You ought to eat the tangerine section you’ve already take.” Jim was startled into realizing what he was doing. It was as if he hadn’t been eating the tangerine at all. If he had been eating anything, he was “eating” his future plans.
A tangerine has sections. If you can eat just one section, you can probably eat the entire tangerine. But if you can’t eat a single section, you cannot eat the tangerine. Jim understood. He slowly put his hand down and focused on the presence of the slice already in his mouth. He chewed it thoughtfully before reaching down and taking another section.
Later, when Jim went to prison for a activities against the war, I was worried about whether he could endure the four walls of prison and sent him a very short letter: “Do you remember the tangerine we shared when we were together? Your being there is like the tangerine. Eat it and be one with it. Tomorrow it will be no more.”
This simple lesson in mindfulness really gets to the heart of the matter. Eat a Tangerine is not specifically designed to be Buddhist, though it discusses many Buddhist ideas and practices. It is also not a yoga website per se, but there will be plenty of yoga philosophy and other aspects of yoga. But really, I envision Eat a Tangerine as more of a seeker’s site. A little Buddha, a little Ganesha, a little poetry, a little magic, a little whatever gets you through the night.
From there, who knows? I’m not certain where Eat a Tangerine will lead at the moment, and that’s fine. But I do know one thing: I’d like for this site to be one small point of light, one beacon of hope, one inspiration at a time when it is sorely needed.