Tuesday, November 19, 2013

teahouse practice

Try to Love the World

Sri Chinmoy

Do not try
To change the world.
You will fail.
Try to love the world.
Lo, the world is changed,
Changed forever.

It's been snowing for days. The snow falls this morning. And it was snowing in the afternoon on the weekend when I sat with my daughter and had tea and ginger cookies (she baked them) and bits of chocolate. 

If we were having tea this afternoon, I would tell you about the documentary we watched recently on Gerhard Richter. I would tell you I'm looking forward to reading Donna Tartt's new novel, The Goldfinch. We saw the painting when we were in The Hague a few years ago and it's lovely.

And I would tell you about the film I haven't yet seen but have on hold at the library, called The Buddha.

From the website for The Buddha, Jane Hirshfield speaking about teahouse poetry:

In Japanese Zen, it’s sometimes said that there are four kinds of Buddhist practice. One is priest practice, one is monastic practice, one is layperson’s practice, and the fourth is “teahouse practice.” Teahouse practice is the practice path of the old woman who runs the teahouse by the side of the road. No one knows why they like to stop there for some green tea and a small sweet cake. The fragrance of the tea, the freshness of the cake, are good, but nothing special. The old woman wipes the wooden counters with a clean, soft cloth and the wood glows a little, and each person who enters is met with a friendly and slightly curious look. “Who are you?” the look says, and “What can I bring you?” and something in it is also like the look of the truck stop waitress who calls everyone “Dear,” and means it. If she also sees far into them, it is into who they are just as they are.

Writing poems is a teahouse practice, for me. A way to look at my own life, and the life of us all, and find them larger, more spacious, and more multi-directional than I had realized, and more dear.

My favourite tea is Jasmine. This week I sprang for the good stuff, by Mighty Leaf.

I've been lighting a lot of candles lately. And reading favourite poets, Adam Zagajewski, Anna Kamienska, Jane Hirshfield.

And I like the idea of the teahouse practice - looking into my life, into my teacup, trying to understand the spaciousness. Trying to love the world. This life. The snow that falls and falls and falls.


  1. Thank you Shawna! This is gorgeous and glorious~
    I want to try this practice and see the sentiment that tea creates.

    For me, time out for tea is swirling memories of cherished love ones
    partaking kindness in sunny cups and looking for magic in their day.

    Thank you for sharing! I too am interested in reading, the book The Goldfinch.
    I love the sense of calm you instill~

  2. I saw the old woman and the glowing wood.
    and I could just almost feel the warmth of the tea. your tea.
    thank you for this.
    your posts are beautiful small gifts.

  3. Beautiful. The ginger cookies look so pretty!

  4. Wonderful. I like strong tea on cold and snowy winter nights, but I'm open.

    I want to love the world, but it always begins with loving the waitress who calls me dear, and the one who doesn't.

    Your blog is a bit like that roadside teahouse.

  5. Ellie sent me your way and I am so happy she did. Your writing is beautiful, a brief Zen moment of peacefulness and perspective-enhancement! Yay! I so needed it.


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