Central to the concept of One Taste is the understanding that everything in existence consists of the same substance and therefore in essence, the 'same thing'. This is traditionally symbolised by the term "the five lights". This means therefore that everything in phenomenal existence is literally considered to be essentially the 'same thing'.
Following on from this everything we see and experience, the entirety of phenomenal existence, are literally considered different formations of these 'Five Lights'. Traditionally it is said that from these Lights the Realms and the Buddha families emanate in successive stages of manifestation. These colours usually include red, yellow, green, blue and violet or white, depending on the school or type of Buddhism. Each colour is said to represents an emotion or mood which is how we experience what is ultimately still just frequencies of light. As everything is made up of frequencies, the only difference between a beautiful castle and a stinking swamp is our emotional reaction to it. What we are seeing has maybe more green or red, but is still ultimately just a dance of coloured light.
The goal of One Taste is to realize that being made from the same ground substance, all things are of "the same taste" and through this realization bring our emotional responses to these things under the banner of ease. Not placing too much or too little value on experiences, people and things, we are no longer disturbed by being forced to deal with having or not having it. This of course does not happen all at once and certain things are definitely more easy to bring under the banner of One Taste than others.
For this reason a good place to start is food - where whatever you eat does not really disturb you. Of course we will still prefer the chocolate cake if given a choice but it means that we will not suffer if we have to eat mushy peas, realizing that they are just a slightly different format of combined lights. Each of the Five Lights has a taste associated with it and it is the combination of tastes that make up the flavour. As you come to the realization that it is simply your desire or aversion to certain flavours that cause you not to enjoy it for what it is, it becomes remarkebly easy to see how our prejudices spoil the moment. When we conquer our preferences to the point where we have the same response to chocolate cake as mushy peas we clearly see the simple mechanics of experiencing joy.
A gifted artist can blend shape and color
Into such an image of terror,
That gazing at his work we grow afraid.
But look again. Set aside your fear
And all that remains is but a reflection.
- SYALIPA - The Jackal Yogin (Masters of Enchantment)
Each person will have there own relation to flavour and taste as their expression of the Five Lights, and this is as it should be, perfect as it is. Once one realizes that everything is made up of the same ground substance and one reacts to it all equally, One Taste meets Discriminating Wisdom where one can choose one set of tastes over another, since it really makes no difference at all. Of course one can only truly embrace the state of Discriminating Wisdom once one has mastered One Taste. Only then can ones choices truly said to be free of the taint of conditioned responses, allowing you to sample the tastiest morsels reality has to offer without prejudice. If not, you will simply fall under the sway of desire and aversion again, which is the shortcut to Suffering.
Another, more meaty example is that of relationships - the cause of much uneccary pain. From a One Taste perspective you can potentially have a relationship with anyone by seeing them as the pure play of your mind. By holding this view you can see beauty in everyone, some just takes a little more commitment. If you allow yourself to truly see things from this perspective you can recognise the pure essence of the masculine or the feminine in any man or woman. They say one woman is all women, and I have seen the faces of thousands of women in one woman’s face and conversely I have experienced the single face of the cosmic feminine in every woman I have met. To realize this fundamental truth that upon the person opposite you, you can see the fabric of reality and potentially project or see whatever you like on to it is very liberating.
Once one has done this enough times and realize that you can in fact love anyone by holding the right view of them, you become free to choose someone who is more in tune with your nature. Once again One Taste meets Discriminating Wisdom but only once one has engaged the One Taste properly, does it have any meaning. Whether you choose to see all women in one woman or vice versa is entirely up to personal prediliction but the point is to engage the process with the commitment to One Taste and the universe will reveal the joy and beauty in abundance with you.
The practice of One Taste is to gradually bring all aspects of your reality under the banner of Ease by seeing everything as simply the dance of the Five Lights. Carefully watching as our preconceptions, desires and aversions attempt to turn this pure dance into suffering by wanting to return to the incorrect default setting of the conditioned ego. We suffer when we do not get what we want, and we suffer when we get what we want and it gets taken away, or we are not able to get more of it once its gone. This is why One Taste is a practice par excellence for liberating the Self from the traps of conditioned existence.
When you have truly embraced the one taste everything turns to gold.
- Naropa ("The Life and teaching of Naropa" by Herbert Guenth)
There is a story about Marpa who went to Naropa for teachings and brought a pile of gold which was the traditional offering in exhange for precious Teachings and which he had painstakingly collected over many years. Naropa took the pile of gold dust and threw it into the air, and as Marpa stood horrified at his loss Naropa turned everything around him into gold.
When everything is equal and pure then there is 'nothing to hide' in your house as it is all equally precious and completely without value at the same time so it is pointless to worry or stress about it being taken from you. Coming from this view there is no material thing that has any more or less value than any other material thing, even ones most loved friend has the same intrinsic value as a pile of dry bones in a graveyard. If one has internalized the preciousness of human birth one will realize that the precious friend could easily become the pile of bones and hence attachment to him would be pointless. Much of our neurosis is liberated in this way.
As Marpa was crying while burying his dead son one of his students remarked, “But I thought all things were empty” to which Marpa replied “Yes but certain things are more empty than others...”
To feel sadness at loss is perfect too. It is also the pure expression of the Five Lights of emotion and if we hold the view of One Taste our suffering diminishes to almost nothing. It is not that One Taste turns us into unfeeling robots incapable of feeling, it is more that we transcend our desires and aversions to the point where we realize the delight in all of existence. If we have neither fear of loss nor any desire to acquire, we can quite simply enjoy everything that comes along, like a child playing in the mud.
The practice of One Taste can begin anywhere and quite frankly doesn't matter how you choose to engage it, as long as you do. In my opinion the sooner one starts the better because there simply is just so much to do. I am just using food and relationships as two examples to indicate the range of experiences to which the practice can be applied. Once embarked on the path, one can systematically work through all of your desires and aversions by sampling the One Taste pizza untill the plate is clean.
Accomplished One Taste practitioners would become immune to disease since if all is pure and made of the same ground matrix how and why would one aspect harm another aspect? When viewed as the dance of pretty coloured lights the notion of disease as an external, let alone impure or harmful thingin itself becomes completely unthinkable. Having no aversion to the state of disease it quite simply becomes powerless to affect one.
A practical example of this was when I saw Dahl Lake in Kashmir as pure and drank the water from it without any adverse affects, until the day I saw raw sewerage being emptied into it. That night I got sick as a dog. My view of the water changed and because for a moment I stopped seeing it as primordially pure it resulted in me getting sick. It was the exact same water, what changed was my view of it. This was a valuable lesson for me on the importance and direct affect of holding the One Taste view, as I should have seen the sewerage as pure too but I flinched and got sick. After that I did not flinch again.
This is the core teaching of One Taste, the rest which is practice is up to you. Enjoy
From the Ashes of the Atomic Fires,