Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Tuesday Statisticz: Calculating the Buddha's caloric intake

At the Tibetan Buddhist monastery this weekend, the lama told us a story of the Buddha's journey to enlightenment. At one stage of the path, he spent six years in meditation without moving. He only ate one juniper berry per day, then he dropped to one grain of rice, and finally only one sesame seed per day.

Obviously, this is impressive. But exactly how impressive is it? I've charted out the average person's caloric intake, and compared it with the Buddha's intake during these six years, at each one of those phases. First I had to determine how many calories are in each of these foods.

To determine the calories of the sesame seed, I went to this unrelated article (via google) and learned that 1000 seeds weigh about 3 grams. Then I converted the grams into ounces. Then I found the number of calories per ounce of sesame seeds. My answer came to 0.017 calories. This seems a little low, but I expect its because the sesame seeds I was looking at are the type that they feed to rats. But who says that the Buddha wouldn't have eaten this type? He's certainly no glutton.

For the grain of rice, I first found the amount of grains of rice per cup, then I found the calories per cup. I'm assuming that he was eating the "wild rice," because those were wild times. My answer came to 0.021 calories per grain of rice.

The calories for juniper berries were easy. Assuming he was eating the "ripe" type, these contain a whopping 38.97 calories. I'm surprised he didn't gain weight on this diet, quite frankly. Finally, I compared these totals to the average suggested caloric intake for males in the UK. Here's the chart:

Okay, I was going to do some more analysis here, but wow, that is just insane. What... self-control. I'm converting to Buddhism.