Food for Thought ❖ อาหารของดวงใจ
[Translator's Introduction, Grant A. Olson]
After reviewing this text by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu, it became clear that the title and sustaining metaphor of this book would translate well into English. The Thai title — Ahan chai — could actually be rendered in several ways: "mind food," "spiritual food," or "food for thought." I chose the last possibility as the most accessible and, if you will, tantalizing title.
This work is a discussion of different kinds of food that is simultaneously intended to be fodder for thought and further contemplation that can lead beyond normal thought. In this text, Buddhadasa Bhikkhu consistently makes a distinction between two kinds of "food" or sustenance—physical and spiritual (or "mental"); through a variety of teachings and examples he discusses what it means to be "hungry" in terms of physical senses and spiritual needs. The overall theme of this work involves showing the difference between the quests for these two different kinds of food and the values associated with and derived from each type of seeking. His similes and metaphors dealing with food are especially clear and useful as teaching devices since they strike so close to home.
Naturally, mixed in with a discussion of these two kinds of hunger are descriptions of what it means to be "full," satisfied, or sated— both in physical and spiritual terms. In English, we occasionally refer to a person who does not know what he is talking about as being "full of it." While this same idiom does not occur in Thai in quite the same way, we can say its meaning fits the spirit of what Buddhadasa Bhikkhu has to say about those people who are solely interested in satisfying their physical desires and impulses at the neglect of their spiritual needs.
In this text, Buddhist terms appear in modified Theravada Pali forms rather than the Sanskritic forms that many people might be used to: that is, Dhamma instead of Dharma; kamma instead of karma; and nibbana instead of nirvana.
I would like to thank Buddhadasa Bhikkhu for the great gift of the abundant teachings he has bestowed upon US and all of the time he sacrificed for me on my visits to Southern Thailand. After his passing this last July of 1993, I hope that the republication of this booklet might help in some small way to make his teachings endure. I want to thank Phra Banyat and Phra Sunthorn, Buddhadharma Meditation Center, Chicago, for suggesting that this workbe translated into English. Mary Roddy deserves special thanks for her steadfast help and encouragement. I thank Chalermsee, Teal Metta, and all my teachers, who are too numerous to list here.