Tea With a Master

January 20, 2012 | Mindfulness


There are two ways to drink a cup of tea.

One way we drink, the liquid goes down, the mind registers a glimpse of taste and warmth, and then we go back about our business. Almost like a car in traffic slowing down for an old lady to cross in front of us. We register her – nothing much to look at – and slow down enough to let her pass, and then we hit the gas, our tires squeal, and off we go again toward all our important business.

But there is a second way to drink our morning tea.

Notice here I note that it’s morning, because here in this second version, the details are important. It’s morning, and the sun is slipping a sheath over things; diaphanous, then hardening into something called light. The vapors from the hot tea lift into emptiness. The house creaks. A dog moans. A child babbles dreamt morning wonder. The cup handle – cold and smooth. Our lips reach for the drink.

The old woman we have slowed our car for turns out to be a master. Her teachings are hidden to everyone who can only see her as old and dying – a nuisance to be slowed for on their way toward things more important. So many wonders steeped in her teachings, in this cup of tea. We leave our car and go sit with her. We just leave our car, idling, in the middle of traffic. The car horns of astonished sheep are bleating….it doesn’t matter. What matters is that we have left the car, left the traffic, to come and sit with a master, drink this tea.

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