Monday, June 10, 2013


The Sunday Farmers' Market in Hollywood

We were in Los Angeles yesterday and we wandered around the Farmer's Market in the heart of Hollywood. Every Sunday morning, thousands of people stroll through the rows of booths teeming with fresh produce, gourmet food, spices, arts and crafts while being serenaded by musicians singing jazz and folk and bluegrass. It's quite an event.

While I have been to many farmers' markets in many different venues, the one in Hollywood has a bit of a different twist to it because it's in Hollywood. Many people (especially tourists) come to the Hollywood market hoping to catch a glimpse of a celebrity milling around in the crowd. And, in fact, many times, if you are out looking for celebrities, you won't be disappointed as you discover that the person walking next to you is Brad Pitt or Steven Spielberg buying fresh tomatoes for the evening meal, just like everyone else.

As I strolled through the Hollywood market yesterday, I thought about why someone would want to catch a glimpse of a celebrity.  Maybe if you find yourself standing next to Brad Pitt at the vegetable booth, you can go home and brag about it - some of the "celebrity" rubs off.

As I walked through the streets of Hollywood yesterday, I also realized that nowadays the cult of "celebrity" extends far beyond Hollywood.  More than stars of stage and screen, today we have celebrity football players and basketball stars, celebrity chefs, celebrity lawyers, celebrity preachers, celebrity gurus, and with the advent of reality TV, today we even have celebrity housewives and celebrity apprentices.

So where does all this leave the rest of us who get up in the morning and lead everyday ordinary lives but are not in the spotlight?  Does our cultural obsession with celebrity status leave ordinary people feeling even more ordinary and viewing their "not so famous" lives as paltry and insignificant? 

Every one of the spiritual teachings of all the major religions celebrate the value and importance of every single human being. When you walk a spiritual path, you must honor the dignity of every human being, for indeed, every human being is enflamed with a spark of divinity. 

Each and every one of us has our own unique gifts, and the lives of each and every one of us are valuable and significant -the farmer who has planted the tomato and the worker who has picked it are just as important as the "superstar" at the Hollywood booth buying the tomato. 

There is a wonderful wisdom saying from the Buddhist tradition:

Your own treasure house already contains everything you need.
Why don't you use it freely,
instead of chasing after something outside yourself.

Today ordinary people will get out of bed and lead ordinary lives; but there really is no such thing as an ordinary life. We are indeed all living "treasure houses." 

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