Submitted by Terry Masters, True Action and Virtue, from Austin, Texas, where she leads a sangha at the Lockhart Community Justice Center. She writes, “Ricky is famous in the prison for his Prison Brownies. He brought some to our meditation the other day and I offered Thây's eating meditation. I suggested he share the recipe. So the next week he brought the recipe — and the meditation he wrote.”
20-24 cookies (any small chocolate cookie with a vanilla or chocolate icing in the middle, such as Oreo, Chocolate Crème, or Double Fudge)
1 Hershey Bar (plain or with almonds)
Separate the icing from the middle of the cookies and put it in a small bowl. You will need it later.
In a mixing bowl crush the cookies as finely as possible.
In the same mixing bowl break the Hershey Bar into small pieces. Stir the candy bar and cookies together.
Add chocolate syrup (a little bit at a time) to the mixture and stir evenly. To thoroughly blend contents, use a spoon and press the mixture down into the bowl. There should be enough chocolate syrup so that when you roll the mixture into a ball it holds together without being too wet.
With the mixture rolled into a ball, form the brownie into a small cereal bowl.
Set the bowl on a fluorescent light or another warm surface for 2-3 hours. This will heat the brownie and melt the chocolate chunks inside.
Take the cookie icing and add a small amount of warm water (about a teaspoon) and stir thoroughly. You want the consistency of cake frosting. Spread evenly on top of the brownie.
Let’s enjoy our brownie together.
Pick up the bowl and hold it in your hands. Take a nice long look at your brownie and smile. Take your time, we’re in no hurry.
Notice the color and texture of the icing. Smell it and notice the sweetness.
Now, cut out a small piece, or use a spoon and scoop out a little bite. Again, look at it and notice the colors and texture.
Do you see the chunks of chocolate inside? Let’s think about the chocolate for a minute.
Think about the cocoa beans that were used to make it. Maybe they grew in Brazil or Columbia. Think how the sun shined down on them, and the rain fell to help them grow. The earth nourished them from the roots so the beans would be just right.
Consider the farmer who picked the beans. He or she has a family and a village of people who know him, who know her, and because we have received these cocoa beans, we’re connected to them, too.
Imagine the boat that delivered the beans. Maybe they came by truck. Consider the driver. I wonder what his name was, what her name was.
What about the gas and oil the boat or truck used? Perhaps it came from Iraq or Saudi Arabia. That’s halfway around the planet from where we’re sitting right now.
Let’s think about the processing plant where the chocolate was made, and all the people who work there. Think about the sugar that was added to make the chocolate sweet and the milk from a cow somewhere.
Even the scientists who invented the preservatives to keep our cookies fresh in the package — they’re involved in this whole process, too.
It’s as if the entire cosmos has come together to provide us with this brownie that we’re enjoying. It was all done for our pleasure. We are connected to everything and everyone in this vast universe in which we exist. Let’s thank them all and smile.
Now, let’s take a bite. Just let it sit in our mouth for a few seconds before we begin to chew. Notice how our mouth begins to water as it receives the bite of brownie. Do you taste the chocolate or the icing first? Slowly begin to chew and notice how all the flavors blend together for our enjoyment. We can’t help but be grateful.
Continue to chew slowly until it completely dissolves, and then swallow.
As we take another bite, let’s wish happiness for ourselves. Let’s think about our body as it digests our brownie. Let’s thank our body for all the miracles that take place inside it every second of every day.
When we take our next bite, let’s offer it to all beings everywhere throughout this world and beyond. Let’s wish them all peace and happiness. We can continue to feel the interconnectedness and to hold that loving-kindness in our heart as we go about the rest of our day.
Truly, life is a precious gift.
Deep bows to all.
*Ricky experimented for years with the ingredients and the procedure for preparing and 'cooking' the brownies. The ingredients are hard to come by. Each prison has a concession; prisoners can work to earn a little bit of money at the prison — things like sweeping or cleaning the toilets — or their families can send them a little money. Inmates then must earn the right to visit the concession, which in some prisons is open only from 3 to 4 a.m. Ricky purchases all the ingredients for his brownies at the concession. He 'cooks' the brownies on the fluorescent lamp in his cell because that is, of course, his only source of heat. He says he adds love with each ingredient, with each step of the preparation. Then he shares generously.