Zen in a Teacup
“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future. Live the actual moment. Only this moment is life.”
Thich Nhat Hanh, the revered Zen Buddhist monk, peace activist, and author of more than 40 books, has written often on the importance of mindfulness, and the power of this perspective to bring calm and joy to our lives. Mindfulness is, quite simply, the practice of paying attention to things we are doing, especially the mundane, everyday acts that are such a part of our routine, we do them with no attention whatsoever – things like brushing our teeth or doing the dishes. Paying attention to these small moments teaches us to be fully present – and thus, more alive.
A cup of tea, Hanh wrote, is the perfect focal point for this meditative exercise:
You must be completely awake in the present to enjoy the tea.
Only in the awareness of the present, can your hands feel the pleasant warmth of the cup.
Only in the present, can you savor the aroma, taste the sweetness, appreciate the delicacy.
If you are ruminating about the past, or worrying about the future, you will completely miss the experience of enjoying the cup of tea.
You will look down at the cup, and the tea will be gone.
Life is like that.
If you are not fully present, you will look around and it will be gone.
You will have missed the feel, the aroma, the delicacy and beauty of life.