Non-Violence and Hard Boiled Eggs

I make really good egg salad. Which, of course, starts with hard-boiled eggs. When my egg salad comes to the table, it looks great, usually in its blue-and-white Chinese bowl, maybe some thin-sliced radishes adorning it, maybe nothing at all, just pure yellow and white.

My hard-boiled eggs in the kitchen, on the other hand, look horrible:

Hard Boiled Egg

They’re battered and broken, gouged and clawed —- and this is one of the better looking ones! Usually by the time I’m finished, chunks of egg white mingle with shards of shell, and the resulting egg had BETTER go into egg salad, because it isn’t fit for anything else.

Until —

Until one morning, looking at three mangled eggs, the penny dropped at last. THIS is what violence is. Slamming the egg because it’s unresponsive to my wishes. Because the shell won’t fly off, it won’t peel in a hurry, it resists my will. I want it done NOW, so I’m impatient, I’m angry, I’m rough, I’m harsh. I, me, mine. What I want MUST be done NOW. Or else.

My violent impulses ย show themselves in other ways, often in a good cause! I flossed my teeth so roughly that the floss cut my finger and made my gums bleed. When I walked in the gym, I walked so vigorously I walked myself into a heel spur. I lifted weights so vehemently I strained my rotor cuff.

You want to laugh? You should see cereal boxes after I’ve opened them. My “rip and tear” method leaves a jagged opening out of which a spray of muesli showers and precipitates a tiny burst of annoyance — read, anger — every morning. Every morning! Anger at myself as well as at the cereal box.ย What I realized in that morning’s quick flash of enlightenment is that violence is violence. On any scale, in any dimension — ripping open a letter, slamming a door, gunning the car at a light (hey, they use that verb for a reason) — it’s all one.ย However cozy and miniature the scale, this is the same ego that drives criminals to value their own will above anyone or anything else’s existence. The distance from gunning the car to road rage to slapping a whiny child to blowing the head off an infuriating neighbor is shorter than we think.

So what is the antidote? Non-violence, what Mohandas Gandhi called ahimsa, which I realize I never understood before. Violence is in the human heart; therefore it can only be subdued in the human heart. And never by violence. It can be subdued by time, by taking time: when I am less hurried I am more able to think, to be master of myself rather than servant.

It can be subdued by patience. Not being impatient with myself, not getting angry with myself is a place to start. Choosing the way that is gentler, having compassion on myself AND on the eggs, those are good places to start. And then — Surprise! Surprise! Egg shells seem to peel themselves off, things fall into place as of their own volition once I allow them to. So the way of non-violence turns out also to be the way of efficiency.

So funny! Can I do this all the time? Of course not. But the more I do it, the better I get at it. I really have to laugh at myself: Gandhi-ji, I come to you late, but far better late than never. Namaste!

Mohandas Gandhi

This entry was posted in Buddha, Definitions, Enlightenment, Etcetera, Mindfulness, Personal Essay, Quotes, Wisdom and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to Non-Violence and Hard Boiled Eggs

  1. themodernidiot says:

    Oh! Simply well done, well done. Bravo. (I am applauding slowly)


  2. Gemma says:

    Nail on the head! (Not to promote any more violence!) but you’ve got it just right. Slow and steady wins the race. I love this post, Judith. Namaste


  3. Therese Craine Bertsch says:

    Love the post. Well, I just spent a great deal of time writing a response and my computer froze. Fate! Wasn’t meant to be. Love these posts as they help me to think about the topic and where I am with it. I’ll rethink and check back and add my 2 cents tomorrow xoxo


  4. Ah! So from this egg hatches a new level of consciousness and a new way to be in the world. Patience is “egg-zactly” what we all need to practice.


  5. Lucid Gypsy says:

    Ah yes a brilliant post, be gentle with yourself always my dear.


  6. tms says:

    Do I have to get there fast on a rainy day? Cars and bikes and pedestrians all have conspired to get into my way. But when the top is down, the sun shines on my head, and I just sit back, let the other drivers have their ways, leave the pedestrians finish their jaywalks (hey, I do it too) – then everything goes so much smoother for me too, and driving in a crowded city can even be fun!

    Long lines that just mean: Well written, good reading, Judith!


  7. BeWithUs says:

    This is a lovely and of course, enlightening post, especially when I’ve just had a bowl of potato+hard boiled egg salad for lunch.

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful thought. Cheers!! ๐Ÿ˜€


  8. This is an exceptional post! So thoughtful, insightful, and so wise.


  9. I think about this often – how can I say I want to be one way one moment and then curse like a truck driver another? Curse, throw, slam, berate. Be the change you wish to see in the world – what a GREAT reminder!


    • Touch2Touch says:

      How? Easy! and so human —
      As someone was just saying to me in a slightly different context, it’s all about process, not results.
      Be gentle with yourself — another reminder! ๐Ÿ˜‰


  10. mybrightlife says:

    Thanks Judith. So much wisdom. When I am harsh it is often because I am rushing and have not planned well. Slow down. Put aside the unimportant. These are issues that we need to be reminded about regularly.


  11. Pauline says:

    What a marvelous post! All the little acts of violence that go unmarked, unnamed… we’d do well to notice them this way and recognize them for what they are. It takes constant attention but we become more peaceful beings when we attend to our intentions. I do like the way you think!


  12. CMSmith says:

    I had a hard boiled egg yesterday that I made a big mess of. Today, as I was peeling it, I remembered this post and things went much better. A good life lesson. Thank you.


  13. franhunne4u says:

    Well, not to take away the message of peaceful wins it all –
    but here is advice that has been passed down to me from my grandma: you get the same result with the eggs, if you roll them with slight pressure from your hand, enough to make the shell break, right before you peel them …


  14. rebekah says:

    Eggsquisite post! ๐Ÿ™‚

    I don’t know if I have patience or self control …probably the latter. It’s very rare that I ‘lose it’, but it does happen, and then I feel stupid afterwards..


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