In the early 1970s Yogi Bhajan invited me to serve as his personal cook. Thereafter, each day from sunrise until evening, I prepared meals for him, his staff, and the many guests and students who would come for his counsel. This story is about a brief encounter with Yogiji one morning while I was preparing his breakfast.
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Reaching blindly into the lower right drawer of the refrigerator, my hand seeks a few oranges to make Yogiji’s morning juice. One of my fingers easily presses into an unexpected, fuzzy, soft spot. “O God, Ewwwww!” I cry under my breath. Pulling the drawer all the way out, I see the culprit: a Valencia orange with a moldy patch. I pluck it from the others to quickly discard it.
Yogiji happens to be passing through the kitchen and notes both my grimace and the orange soon to meet its fate in the garbage bin. He says, “There’s nothing wrong with this orange. Give me a knife.”
I quickly locate a sharp paring knife and hand it to Yogiji. Holding the orange in his left hand, as though it were something precious, he deftly trims away the bad spot. I marvel at his precision and grace in accomplishing what to many would be a mindless task. Even so, I wonder why is he making all this effort to save a moldy orange, especially when we have so many good ones in the fridge? Within a few moments he completes his surgery on the lucky fruit and states with satisfaction, “See, it is perfect!”
He continues to peel the remaining orange, breaks it into wedges, and serves each of us (a few others have collected in the kitchen) a piece, popping the last into his own mouth. “Greeaat!” says the Yogi, and we agree. The orange, that I had been so quick to judge as rotten, had a special sweetness and destiny, recognized only by the master.