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The Many Lessons of the Teacup

In his book, The Wisdom of Insecurity Buddhist author, Jack Kornfield, tells the story of his Buddhist teacher, Ajahn Chah who one day held up a beautiful Chinese tea cup, and said, “To me this cup is already broken. Because I know its fate, I can enjoy it fully here and now. And when it’s gone, it’s gone.”    When we understand the truth of uncertainty and relax, we become free. Everything will break, or get lost or damaged. The broken cup helps us see beyond our illusion of control. The lesson seems to be to treat everything as temporary and thus to treasure each moment we have with whatever we have.

I also recently read of a lovely Tibetan spiritual practice involving a teacup. You place a teacup beside your bed, and each night as you go to bed, you turn the teacup over on your bedside table – signifying not only that this day is done but also a symbolic resignation that your life is in some way done each night. Then, each morning, you turn the teacup over and remind yourself. “I am alive! I can see! I can hear! I am breathing etc. “

And then there is the lesson of ‘Kintsugi” – It is a Japanese art form in which cracks in teacups are carefully mended by artisans with a lacquer resin mixed with gold. The repairs are purposely visible… again reminding us that nothing remains whole, but that we can make beauty from our brokenness.

And so as you sip your tea, take a moment to recognize all the lessons the teacup holds for you today.

Click here to hear Peter Mayer singing his beautiful song about the Japanese bowls repaired with gold;

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