So. I'm in Whole Foods, a couple days back, for a can of young coconut water. Colorado is beautiful, but -- in terms of humidity -- it really is the desert. Mostly my body has adjusted to the situation, but every now and again, all at once, I think: "ohmygod -- I need hydration!" It was one of those times.
So I pick up my can of Amy & Brian's young coconut water, am heading to the express lane to check out, and as I'm passing the case filled with various cookies and pastries (strategically located right there where you wait in line) I slow down, then pause, my gaze coming to rest upon a stack of flourless chocolate cookies.
I'm not really hungry, in fact not hungry at all. I'm thirsty, because I live in Colorado which is beautiful but also a desert, and I've been riding my bicycle around all day. Nevertheless, my mind begins to make its case: "What a great combination, coconut water with a flourless chocolate cookie -- and look, they're only a dollar a piece!"
And so, knowing quite well -- at all but the most superficial level -- that I don't really want a flourless chocolate cookie, irrespective of how perfect a match it is, in some abstract sense, for my young coconut water, I end up buying one, anyway.
In the adjoining cafe, I open and immediately guzzle at least a third of the young coconut water. "Ahhh ...." -- wonderful. Right away feeling the desired hydration -- a bodily need -- being fulfilled. Then take a small bite of the flourless chocolate cookie, which is quite nice -- as flourless chocolate cookies go -- but not at all what my body wants or needs, right now.
Yet on drones the mind-level story: "perfect match for coconut water" -- even in the face of all immediate (sensory) evidence to the contrary; even in the face of that intuitive knowing, still present, that I had first chosen to ignore, standing there in front of the pastry case.
Anyway, I finished the flourless chocolate cookie -- though the nourishment/satisfaction I derived from it was almost entirely the result of having an opportunity to observe the jousting-match, the playful tug-of-war between various aspects of my being.
The whole episode brought to mind the question of what counts as logically-valid sources of knowledge -- a question which is answered within the Tibetan Buddhist tradition in terms of its so-called "tenets of valid cognition," whose relationship to Taoist practice I've recently explored in a two-part essay:
-- and also how old habits (mental, emotional or physical patterns) possess a kind of momentum, which sometimes is seen most clearly when the habit is obviously no longer in alignment with our new or deeper aspirations -- no longer useful in any way -- yet continues to appear: presenting itself as an answer, which a mind uncomfortable with being without immediate answers, might latch onto, even when more reliable sources of knowledge within us are saying something quite different, like: "this isn't really the answer" or "maybe the answer isn't going to be found in the usual ways" or "maybe there isn't an answer."