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Enlightenment is Drinking Tea


"Let's go drink tea. Drinking tea is enlightenment."

Thay' (my Zen Master)

Often, as we come to the path of awakening, we can have many ideas and concepts of just what constitutes living an awakened life. We imagine endless blissful feelings, and a life that never has any challenges. But as we mature on the path, we come to realize that all of our beliefs about what makes up a 'spiritual' life are barriers to actually SEEING what is right here in front of our eyes, and the simplicity with which the present moment is always showing up. In our concepts about what an enlightened life looks like, we judge some things as worthy of our attention, and other things as lacking or unworthy.

Look around you now. Can you 'see' that what is unfolding right where you are is Nirvana, the state of awakened awareness? If you can't see where you are as the highest state, then could it be that your mind (the voice in your head), has hypnotized you into believing that the peace and joy your long for can only be found in a future moment, when things are the way your mind believes they should be? Can you see that this imaged future, when things will be more conducive to awakening, is a mirage, an illusion that never seems to come?

My own Zen Master, whose grasp of english wasn't very good, use to do his best to give dharma (Truth) talks to those of us from the non-Vietnamese speaking community, and usually, after just a few minutes, Thay' (which means teacher, and is a term of love and respect), use to get frustrated, throw up his hands and say, "Let's go have tea. Drinking tea together is enlightenment." Of course, what he was pointing too, was that living an awakened life has nothing to do with flowery words, but with actually BEING with whatever we are doing, here and now. So, the simple act of drinking a cup of tea, and eating a rice cracker in full presence, becomes an act of the highest enlightenment when we are actually HERE to enjoy every lift of the cup to our mouths, and every sip of tea upon our lips.

The truth is, we keep waiting for something more that the ordinary, everyday events of our lives to wake us up from our dream of isolation and fear, and in the process we miss out on the extraordinary aliveness that is available when we are actually HERE to enjoy the mundane events unfolding in every moment. Sipping our tea with full presence, smelling the fragrance of a spring flower, enjoying the smile of a friend; in these ordinary events, we come home to witness the miraculouss unfolding of the sacred, and thus experience enlightenment in every moment, as it is.

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