Thursday, January 16, 2014

a proper cup of tea

Moments of light in the afternoon, lately. I can't remember a winter that's been so consistently grey.  A couple of days ago the sky just opened up and suddenly the house was bathed in light. I went around with the camera and took photos of everything! It all seemed new. When there is light in winter, it is a rather sublime light, a soft and understated sublime.

I took a book off my shelf which I haven't read or looked at in a while. Pema Chödrön's The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Loving-Kindness. Of course I'd dogeared certain pages, underlined paragraphs, lines.

She talks about a quotation a friend has hanging on the kitchen wall:

"Hold the sadness and pain of samsara in your heart and at the same time the power and vision of the Great Eastern Sun. Then the warrior can make a proper cup of tea."

She goes on:

"I was struck by it because when I read it I realized that I myself have some kind of preference for stillness. The notion of holding the sadness and pain of samsara in my heart rang true, but I realized I didn't do that; at least, I had a definite preference for the power and vision of the Great Eastern sun. My reference point was always to be awake and live fully, to remember the Great Eastern Sun - the quality of being continually awake. But what about holding the sadness and pain of samsara in my heart at the same time?"

She talks about being willing to "feel fully and acknowledge continually your own sadness and the sadness of life, but at the same time not be drowned in it." There is how you find balance, completeness.

"One can hold them both in one's heart, which is actually the purpose of practice. As a result of that, one can make a proper cup of tea."

I return to Joseph Campbell:

We cannot cure the world of sorrows,
but we can choose to live in joy.

Life is not perfect, it will never be perfect. There is some consolation in this fact.

In another chapter, Pema Chödron talks about inconvenience. How life is such that 'you're never going to get it all together.' Things aren't going to run smoothly, there will be monkey wrenches in your plans, oh so many monkey wrenches. 'You're never going to get all the little loose ends tied up.'

She says,

"Wholeheartedness is a precious gift, but no one can actually give it to you. You have to find the path that has heart and then walk it impeccably." 

So there you are, walking with your sorrow and your joy, teacup balanced in hand, on the path that has heart, walking impeccably. No one said it would be easy. But the key is the wholeheartedness. The key is that you will constantly need to right yourself.

The key is that this is all just fine.


  1. This is just what I needed this morning, with my monster Thermos go-mug of choloate chilli chai tea. Thank you.


  2. Beautiful Shawna... finding the balance between the sadness that comes from hard trials, and the fact that through it all...the sun shines brightly for you. Beautiful. mari

  3. Oh dear. I read it too late to steep in the stillness of preparing a cup of tea, but just in time to hold the sorrows of samsara with the joy of the fading light on a fine glass of wine.


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