Chapter 4: Have a Cup of Tea



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The story is simple, but difficult to understand. It is always so. The more simple a thing the more difficult it is to understand. To understand, something complex is needed; to understand, you have to divide and analyze. A simple thing cannot be divided and analyzed; there is nothing to divide and analyze -- the thing is so simple. The simplest always escapes understanding, that is why God cannot be understood. God is the simplest thing, absolutely the simplest thing possible. The world can be understood; it is very complex. The more complex a thing is, the more the mind can work in it. When it is simple there is nothing to grind, the mind cannot work.

Logicians say simple qualities are indefinable. For example, somebody asks you what yellow is. It is such a simple quality, the color yellow, how will you define it? You will say, "Yellow is yellow." The man will say, "That I know, but what is the definition of yellow?" If you say yellow is yellow you are not defining, you are simply repeating the same thing again. It is a tautology.

G.E. Moore, one of the most penetrating minds of this century, has written a book, Principia Ethica. The whole book consists of a very persistent effort to define what is good. Making efforts from all directions, in two or three hundred pages --  and two, three hundred pages of G.E. Moore is worth three thousand pages of anybody else --  he came to the conclusion that good is indefinable. Good cannot be defined -- it is such a simple quality. When something is complex there are many things in it; you can define one thing by another that is present there. If you and I are in a room and you ask me, "Who are you?" I can at least say I am not you. This will become the definition, the indication. But if I am alone in a room and I ask myself the question, "Who am I?" the question resounds but there is no answer. How to define it?

That is why God has been missed. Intellect denies it, reason says no. God is the simplest denominator in existence -- the simplest and the most basic. When the mind stops there is nothing other than God, so how to define God? He is alone in the room. That is why religions try to divide, then definition is possible. They say, "This world is not that; God is not the world, God is not matter, God is not body, God is not desire." These are ways to define.

You have to put something against something, then a boundary can be drawn. How do you draw a boundary if there is no neighbor? Where do you place the fence of your house if there is no neighborhood? If there is no one beside you how can you fence in your house? Your house boundary consists of the presence of your neighbor. God is alone, he has no neighbor. Where does he begin? Where does he end? Nowhere. How can you define God? Just to define God, the Devil was created. God is not the Devil -- at least this much can be said. You may not be able to say what God is but you can say what he is not: God is not the world.

I was just reading one Christian theologian's book. He says God is everything except evil. This, too, is enough to define. He says, "All except evil." This much will draw a boundary. He is not aware, if God is everything then from where does this evil come? It must be coming from everything. Otherwise there is some other source of existence besides God, and that other source of existence becomes equivalent to God. Then evil can never be destroyed, then it has its own source of existence; then evil is not dependent on God so how can God destroy it? God will not destroy it. Once evil is destroyed God cannot be defined. To define him he needs the Devil to be there always, just around him. Saints need sinners, otherwise they would not be there. How will you know who is a saint? Every saint needs sinners around him; those sinners make the boundary.

The first thing to be understood is that complex things can be understood, simple things cannot. A simple thing is alone. This Joshu story is very simple. It is so simple it escapes you: you try to grip it, you try to grab it -- it escapes. It is so simple that your mind cannot work on it. Try to feel the story. I will not say try to understand because you cannot understand it -- try to feel the story. Many things are hidden if you try to feel them; if you try to understand it nothing is there -- the whole anecdote is absurd.

Joshu saw one monk and asked, "Have I seen you before?"

The man said, "No sir, there is no possibility. I have come for the first time, I am a stranger -- you could not have seen me before.

Joshu said, "Okay, then have a cup of tea."Then he asked another monk, "Have I seen you before?"

The monk said, "Yes sir, you must have seen me. I have always been here; I am not a stranger."

The monk must have been a disciple of Joshu's, and Joshu said, "Okay, then have a cup of tea."

The manager of the monastery was puzzled: with two different persons responding in different ways, two different answers were needed. But Joshu responded in the same way -- to the stranger and to the friend, to one who has come for the first time and to one who has been here always. To the unknown and to the known Joshu responded in the same way. He made no distinction, none at all. He didn't say, "You are a stranger. Welcome! Have a cup of tea." He didn't say to the other, "You have always been here, so there is no need for a cup of tea." Nor did he say, "You have always been here so there is no need to respond."

Familiarity creates boredom; you never receive the familiar. You never look at your wife. She has been with you for many, many years and you have completely forgotten that she exists. What is the face of your wife? Have you looked at her recently? You may have completely forgotten her face. If you close your eyes and meditate and remember, you may remember the face you looked on for the first time. But your wife has been a flux, a river, constantly changing. The face has changed; now she has become old. The river has been flowing and flowing, new bends have been reached; the body has changed. Have you looked at her recently? Your wife is so familiar there is no need to look. We look at something which is unfamiliar; we look at something which strikes us as strange. They say familiarity breeds contempt: it breeds boredom.

I have heard one anecdote: two businessmen, very rich, were relaxing on Miami Beach. They were lying down, taking a sunbath. One said, "I can never understand what people see in Elizabeth Taylor, the actress. I don't understand what people see, why they become so mad. What is there? You take her eyes away, you take her hair away, you take her lips away, you take her figure away, and what is left, what have you got?"

The other man grunted, became sad and replied, "My wife -- that's what's left."

That is what has become of your wife, of your husband -- nothing is left. Because of familiarity, everything has disappeared. Your husband is a ghost; your wife is a ghost with no figure, with no lips, with no eyes -- just an ugly phenomenon. This has not always been so. You fell in love with this woman once. That moment is there no longer; now you don't look at her at all. Husbands and wives avoid looking at each other. I have stayed with many families and watched husbands and wives avoid looking at each other. They have created many games to avoid looking; they are always uneasy when they are left alone. A guest is always welcome; both can look at the guest and avoid each other.

Joshu seems to be absolutely different, behaving in the same way with a stranger and a friend. The monk said, "I have always been here sir, you know me well."

And Joshu said, "Then have a cup of tea." The manager couldn't understand. Managers are always stupid; to manage, a stupid mind is needed. And a manager can never be deeply meditative. It is difficult: he has to be mathematical, calculating; he has to see the world and arrange things accordingly. The manager became disturbed. What is this? What is happening? This looks illogical. It's okay to offer a cup of tea to a stranger but to this disciple who has always been here? So he asked, "Why do you respond in the same way to different persons, to different questions?"

Joshu called loudly, "Manager, are you here?"

The manager said, "Yes sir, of course I am here."

And Joshu said, "Then have a cup of tea." This asking loudly, "Manager, are you here?" is calling his presence, his awareness. Awareness is always new, it is always a stranger, the unknown. The body becomes familiar not the soul -- never. You may know the body of your wife; you will never know the unknown hidden person. Never. That cannot be known, you cannot know it. It is a mystery; you cannot explain it. When Joshu called, "Manager, are you here?" suddenly the manager became aware. He forgot that he was a manager, he forgot that he was a body; he responded from his heart. He said, "Yes sir."

This asking loudly was so sudden, it was just like a shock. And it was futile, that's why he said, "Of course I am here. You need not ask me, the question is irrelevant." Suddenly the past, the old, the mind, dropped. The manager was there no more -- simply a consciousness was responding. Consciousness is always new, constantly new; it is always being born; it is never old. And Joshu said, "Then have a cup of tea."      The first thing to be felt is that for Joshu, everything is new, strange, mysterious. Whether it is the known or the unknown, the familiar or the unfamiliar, it makes no difference. If you come to this garden every day, by and by you will stop looking at the trees. You will think you have already looked at them, that you know them. By and by you will stop listening to the birds; they will be singing, but you will not listen. You will have become familiar; your eyes are closed, your ears are closed. If Joshu comes to this garden -- and he may have been coming every day for many, many lives -- he will hear the birds, he will look at the trees. Everything, every moment, is new for him.

This is what awareness means. For awareness everything is constantly new. Nothing is old, nothing can be old. Everything is being created every moment -- it is a continuous flow of creativity. Awareness never carries memory as a burden.

The first thing: a meditative mind always lives in the new, in the fresh. The whole existence is newly born -- as fresh as a dewdrop, as fresh as a leaf coming out in the spring. It is just like the eyes of a newborn babe: everything is fresh, clear, with no dust on it. This is the first thing to be felt. If you look at the world and feel everything is old, it shows you are not meditative. When you feel everything is old, it shows you have an old mind, a rotten mind. If your mind is fresh, the world is fresh. The world is not the question, the mirror is the question. If there is dust on the mirror the world is old; if there is no dust on the mirror how can the world be old? If things get old you will live in boredom; everybody lives in boredom; everybody is bored to death.

Look at people's faces. They carry life as a burden -- boring, with no meaning. It seems that everything is just a nightmare, a very cruel joke, that somebody is playing a trick, torturing them. Life is not a celebration, it cannot be. With a mind burdened by memory life cannot be a celebration. Even if you laugh, your laughter carries boredom. Look at people laughing: they laugh with an effort. Their laugh may be just to be mannerly, their laugh may be just etiquette.

I have heard about one dignitary who went to Africa to visit a community, a very old, primitive community of aborigines. He gave a long lecture. He told a very long anecdote -- for almost half an hour the anecdote continued -- then the interpreter stood up. He spoke only four words and the primitives laughed heartily. The dignitary was puzzled. He had been telling the anecdote for half an hour, how could it be translated in four words? It seemed impossible. And people understood; they were laughing, a belly laugh. Puzzled, he said to the interpreter, "You have done a miracle. You have spoken only four words. I don't know what you said but how can you translate my story, which was so long, into only four words?"

The interpreter said, "Story too long, so I say, 'He says joke -- laugh.' "

What type of laughter will come out? Just mannerly etiquette will come out, and this man has been laboring for half an hour. Look at people's laughter. It is a mental thing, they are making an effort; their laughter is false. It is painted, it is just on the lips, it is an exercise of the face. It is not coming from their being, from the source, it is not coming from the belly; it is a created thing. It is obvious that we are bored, and whatsoever we do will come out of this boredom and will create more boredom. You cannot celebrate. Celebration is possible only when existence is a continuous newness, and existence is always young. When nothing grows old, when nothing really dies -- because everything is constantly reborn -- it becomes a dance. Then it is an inner music flowing. Whether you play an instrument or not is not the point, the music is flowing.

I have heard a story. It happened in Ajmer... You must have heard about one Sufi mystic, Moinuddin Chishti, whose dargah, whose tomb, is in Ajmer. Chishti was a great mystic, one of the greatest ever born, and he was a musician. To be a musician is to be against Islam because music is prohibited. He played on the sitar and on other instruments. He was a great musician and he enjoyed it. Five times every day, when a Mohammedan is required to pray the five ritual prayers, he wouldn't pray, he would simply play on his instrument. That was his prayer.

This was absolutely anti-religious but nobody could say anything to Chishti. Many times people would come to tell him so and he would start singing, and the song would be so beautiful they would forget completely why they had come. He would start playing on his instrument and it would be so prayerful that even scholars and pundits and maulvis who had come to object, wouldn't object. They would remember at home; when they were back at home they would remember why they had come.

Chisthi's fame spread over the world. From every part of the world, people started coming. One man, Jilani, himself a great mystic, came from Baghdad just to see Chishti. When Chishti heard that Jilani was coming he felt, "To pay respect to Jilani it will not be good to play my instrument now. Because he is such an orthodox Mohammedan, it will not be a good welcome. He may feel hurt." So only for that day, in his whole life, he decided he would not play, he would not sing. He waited from morning and in the afternoon Jilani came. Chishti had hidden his instruments.

When Jilani came and they both sat in silence, the instruments started to make music -- the whole room was filled. Chishti became very puzzled over what to do. He had hidden them, and such music he had never known before. Jilani laughed and said, "Rules are not for you, you need not hide them. Rules are for ordinary people, rules are not for you -- you should not hide them. How can you hide your soul? Your hands may not play, you may not sing from your throat, but your whole being is musical. And this whole room is filled with so much music, with so many vibrations that now the whole room is playing by itself."

When your mind is fresh the whole existence becomes a melody. When you are fresh, freshness is everywhere and the whole existence responds. When you are young, not burdened by memory, everything is young and new and strange.      This Joshu is wonderful. This has to be felt deeply, then you will be able to understand. But that understanding will be more like feeling than understanding -- not mental but from the heart. Many more dimensions are hidden in this story. Another dimension is that when you come to an enlightened person whatsoever you say makes no difference, his response will be the same. Your questions, your answers are not meaningful, not relevant; his response will be the same. To all the three Joshu responded in the same way because an enlightened person remains the same. No situation changes him; the situation is not relevant. You are changed by the situation, you are completely changed; you are manipulated by the situation. Meeting a person who is a stranger, you behave differently. You are more tense, trying to judge the situation: What type of man is this? Is he dangerous, not dangerous? Will he prove friendly or not? You look with fear. That's why with strangers you feel an uneasiness.

If you are traveling in a train, the first thing you will see is passengers asking each other what they do, what their religion is, where they are going. What is the need of these questions? These questions are meaningful because then they can be at ease. If you are Hindu and they are also Hindu, they can relax -- the man is not very strange. But if you say that you are Mohammedan, the Hindu becomes tense. Then some danger is there, some stranger is there. He will make a little space between you and him; he cannot be at ease, he cannot relax. He may even change his seat. But even a Mohammedan is religious. If you say, "I am an atheist, I am not religious at all; I don't belong to any religion," then you are even more of a stranger. An atheist? Then he will feel that just sitting by your side he will become impure. You are like a disease; he will avoid you. People start asking questions not because they are very curious about you; no, they just want to judge the situation -- whether they can relax, whether they are in a familiar atmosphere or if something strange is there. They are on their safeguard and this is their inquiry for safety.

Your face changes continuously. If you see a stranger you have a different face; if you see a friend, immediately the face changes; if your servant is there you have a different face; if your master is there you have a different face. You continuously change your masks because you depend on the situation. You don't have a soul, you are not integrated, things around you change you. That is not the case with a Joshu. With a Joshu, the case is totally different. He changes his surroundings, he is not changed by his surroundings. Whatsoever happens around him is irrelevant, his face remains the same; there is no need to change the mask.

It is reported that once a governor came to see Joshu. Of course, he was a great politician, a powerful man -- a governor. He wrote on a paper, "I have come to see you," his name, and governor of this-and-this state. He must have knowingly or unknowingly wanted to influence Joshu.

Joshu looked at the paper, threw it away and said to the man who had brought the message, "Say I don't want to see this fellow at all. Throw him out."

The man went and said, "Joshu has said, 'Throw him out.' He has thrown your paper away and said, 'I don't want to see this fellow.' "

The governor understood. He wrote again on a paper just his name and, "I would like to see you."

The paper reached Joshu and he said, "So this is the fellow! Bring him in."

The governor came in and he asked, "But why did you behave in such a strange way? You said, 'Throw this man out.' "

Joshu said, "Faces are not allowed here. "Governor" is a face, a mask. I recognize you very well, but I don't recognize masks, and if you have come with a mask you are not allowed. Now it is okay; I know you very well but I don't know any governor. The next time you come leave the governor behind, leave it at your house; don't bring it with you."

We are almost continuously using faces; immediately we change. If we see changes in the situation we change immediately, as if we have no integrated soul, no crystallized soul.

For Joshu, everything is the same -- this stranger, this friend, a disciple, this manager. With his response, "Have a cup of tea," he remains the same inside. And why have a cup of tea? This is a very symbolic thing for Zen masters. Tea was discovered by Zen masters and tea is not an ordinary thing for them. In every Zen monastery they have a tearoom. It is special, just like a temple. You will not be able to follow this... because tea is a very religious thing for a Zen master or a Zen monastery. Tea is just like prayer. It was discovered by them.

In India, if you see a sannyasin drinking tea, you will feel he is not a good man. Gandhi would not allow anybody in his ashram to drink tea. Tea was prohibited, it was a sin; nobody was allowed to take tea. If Gandhi had read this story he would have been hurt: an enlightened person, Joshu, asking people, inviting people to have tea? But Zen has a different attitude towards tea. The very name comes from a Chinese monastery, Ta. There, for the first time, they discovered tea, and they found that tea helps meditation because tea makes you more alert, it gives you a certain awareness. That's why if you take tea you will find it difficult to go to sleep immediately. They found tea helps awareness, alertness, so in a Zen monastery tea is part of meditation. What more can Joshu offer than awareness? When he says, "Have a cup of tea," he is saying, " Have a cup of awareness." Tea is very symbolic for them. He says, "Have a cup of awareness."

That is all that enlightenment can do. If you come to me what can I offer you? I have nothing other than a cup of tea.

To the familiar or unfamiliar, to a friend or a stranger, or even to the manager who has always been there managing his monastery, Have a cup of tea. That's all a Buddha can offer to anybody, but there is nothing more valuable than that. In Zen monasteries they have a tearoom. It is like a temple, the most sacred place. You cannot enter with your shoes because it is a tearoom; you cannot enter without taking a bath. Tea means awareness and the ritual is just like prayer. When people enter a tearoom they become silent; when they enter the room no talk is allowed, they become silent. They sit on the floor in a meditative posture and then the hostess or the host prepares tea. Everybody is silent. The tea starts boiling and everybody has to listen to it, to the sound, to the kettle creating music. Everybody has to listen to it. The drinking has started though the tea is not even ready.

If you ask Zen people they will say; tea is not something that you pour with unawareness and drink like any other drink. It is not a drink, it is meditation; it is prayer. So they listen to the kettle creating a melody, and in that listening they become more silent, more alert.

Then cups are put before them and they touch them. Those cups are not ordinary; every monastery has its own unique cups, they prepare their own cups. Even if they are purchased from the market, first they break them then glue them again so the cup becomes special, so you cannot find any replica of it anywhere else. Then everybody touches the cup, feels the cup. The cup means the body; if tea means awareness, then the cup means the body. And if you have to be alert, you have to be alert from the very roots of your body. Touching, they are alert, meditating. Then the tea is poured. The aroma comes, the smell. This takes a long time -- one hour, two hours -- so it is not just within a minute that you have drunk the tea, thrown the cup down and gone away. No, it is a long process -- slow, so that you become aware of each step. And then they drink. The taste, the heat -- everything has to be done with very alert mindfulness. That's why the master gives the tea to the disciple. With a master pouring tea in your cup you will be more alert and aware; with a servant pouring tea in your cup you can simply forget him. When Joshu pours tea in your cup -- if I come and pour tea in your cup -- your mind will stop, you will be silent. Something special is happening, something sacred. Tea becomes a meditation.

Joshu said, have a cup of tea, to all three. Tea was just an excuse. Joshu will give them more awareness, and awareness comes through sensitivity. You have to be more sensitive whatsoever you do, so even a trivial thing like tea... Can you find anything more trivial than tea? Can you find anything more mean, more ordinary than tea? No, you cannot. And Zen monks and masters have raised this most ordinary thing into the most extraordinary. They have bridged "this" and "that", as if tea and God have become one. Unless tea becomes divine you will not be divine, because the least has to be raised to the most, the ordinary has to be raised to the extraordinary, the earth has to be made heaven. They have to be bridged, no gap should be left.

If you go to a Zen monastery and you see a master drinking tea, with an Indian mind you will feel very much disturbed. What type of man is this, drinking tea? Can you conceive Buddha under a Bodhi tree drinking tea? You cannot conceive it; it is inconceivable. The Indian mind has been talking about nonduality but has created much duality. You have been listening to advaita, the unity, the one, but whatsoever you have done, you have created two. And you have created such a gap between the two that they look unbridgeable. Because of this Shankara had to talk about maya and illusion. You have created such a gap between this world and that world, they cannot be bridged. So what to do?

Shankara said: This world is illusory. You need not bridge; this world is not. That is the only way to come to one; you have to deny the other completely. But denial won't help; even if you say this world is illusory, it is there. And why do you insist so much that it is illusory if it is not really there? What is the problem? Why is it that Shankara went his whole life teaching people this world is illusory? Nobody bothers if it is illusory. If Shankara knew it is illusory, then why bother about it? It seems some problem is there. It cannot be bridged so the only way is to drop it completely from consciousness, to say it is not there so only one remains. We have only one way to come to the one -- to deny the other.

Zen has another way to bridge, and I think it is more beautiful; there is no need to deny the other. And you cannot deny: even in denial you will assert. If you say this world doesn't exist, you have to indicate this world, which is nowhere, so what are you indicating? What are you pointing your finger at if there is nothing? Then you are foolish. This world exists, and if you say it is illusory, it is only an interpretation. If this world is illusory "that" cannot be real, because from "this", "that" has to be achieved. If this world is illusory then your Brahma cannot be real. If the creation is illusory how can the creator be real? -- because the creation comes from the creator. If the Ganges is illusory how can the Gangotri be real? If I am illusory then my parents are bound to be illusory, because only out of dream is a dream born. If they are real then the child must be real.

Zen says both are real, but both are not two. Bridge them -- so tea becomes prayer, so the most profane thing becomes the most sacred. It is a symbol. And Zen says if your ordinary life becomes extraordinary, only then are you spiritual. Otherwise, you are not spiritual. In the ordinary the extraordinary has to be found; in the familiar, the strange; in the known, the unknown; in the near, the far; in "this," "that." So Joshu said, "Come and have a cup of tea."

One more dimension is there in the story and that dimension is of welcome. Everybody is welcome. Who you are is not relevant, you are welcome. At the gate of an enlightened master, at the gate of a Joshu or a Buddha, everybody is welcome. The door is, in a sense, open: Come in and have a cup of tea. What does this mean: Come in and have a cup of tea? Joshu was saying: Come in and relax.

If you go to other so-called masters, so-called monks and sannyasins, you will become more tense; you cannot relax. Go to a sannyasin: you become more tense, you become more afraid. And he creates guilt; he will look at you with condemnatory eyes, and the very way he will look at you will say you are a sinner. And he will start condemning: This is wrong, that is wrong; leave this, leave that. This is not the way of a really enlightened person. He will make you feel relaxed. There is a Chinese saying that if you reach a really great man you will feel relaxed with him; if you reach a false great man he will create tension within you. He will make, knowingly or unknowingly, every effort to show that you are low, a sinner; that he is high, above, transcendental.

A buddha will help you to relax, because only in your deep relaxation will you also become a buddha. There is no other way.

"Have a cup of tea," Joshu said. "Come relax with me." The tea is symbolic -- Relax. If you are drinking tea with a buddha, you will immediately feel that you are not alien, not strangers. Buddha pouring tea in your cup... Buddha has come down to you. Buddha has come to "this", he has brought "that" to "this". Christians, Jews, cannot conceive it; Mohammedans cannot conceive it. If you knock at the gate of heaven, can you conceive of God coming and telling you, "Come, have a cup of tea." It looks so profane. God will be sitting on his throne looking at you with his thousand eyes, looking at every nook and corner of your being, at how many sins you have committed. Judgment will be there.

This Joshu is nonjudgmental. He does not judge you, he simply accepts. Whatsoever you say, he accepts and says, "Come and relax with me." Relaxation is the point. And if you can relax with an enlightened person his enlightenment will start penetrating you, because when you are relaxed you become porous. When you are tense you are closed; when you relax he will enter. When you are relaxed, comfortable, drinking tea, Joshu is doing something then. He cannot enter through your mind but he can enter through your heart. Asking you to have a cup of tea is making you relaxed, friendly, bringing you nearer, closer. Remember, whenever you are taking food and drinking something with someone, you become very intimate. Food and sex are the only two intimacies. In sex you are intimate, in food you are intimate. And food is more basic an intimacy than sex, because when a child is born the first thing he will receive from the mother will be food. Sex will come later on when he becomes mature sexually, fourteen, fifteen years afterwards. The first thing you received in this world was food and that food was a drink. So the first intimacy known in this world is between a mother and a child.

Joshu was saying, "Come, have a cup of tea. Let me become your mother. Let me give you a drink." And a master is a mother. I insist that a master is a mother. A master is not a father, and Christians are wrong when they call their priests "father," because father is a very unnatural thing, a societal phenomenon. The father doesn't exist anywhere in nature except in human society; it is a created thing, a cultured thing. The mother is natural. It exists without any culture, education, society, it is there in nature. Even trees have mothers. You may not have heard that not only does your mother give you life, but even a tree has a mother. They have been experimenting in England. There is a special lab, Delaware, where they have been experimenting with plants, and they have come to discover a very mysterious phenomenon. If a seed is thrown in the soil, and the mother from where the seed has been taken is near, it sprouts sooner. If the mother is not near, it takes a longer time. If the mother has been destroyed, cut, then it takes a very long time for the seed to sprout. The presence of the mother, even for a seed, is helpful.

A master is a mother, he is not a father. With a father you are related only intellectually, with a mother your relation is total. You have been part of your mother, you belong to her totally. The same is the case with a master in the reverse order. You have come out of the mother, you will go into the master. It is a returning back to the source.

So Zen masters always invite you for a drink. They are saying in a symbolic way, "Come and become a child to me, let me become your mother; let me become your second womb. Enter me, I will give you a rebirth."

Food is intimacy, and it is so deeprooted in you that your whole life is affected by it. Men all over the world, in different societies, different cultures, go on thinking of women's breasts. In paintings, sculpture, films, novels -- whatsoever -- the breast remains the central point. Why so much attraction for the breast? That has been the first intimacy with the world; you came to know existence through it. The breast was the first touch of the world. For the first time you came near to existence, for the first time you knew the other -- from the breast. That's why so much attraction for the breast. You cannot be attracted towards a woman who has no breasts, flat breasts. It is difficult because you cannot feel the mother there. So even an ugly woman becomes attractive if she has beautiful breasts -- as if breasts were the point, the central thing in the being. And what is the breast? The breast is food. Sex comes later, food comes first.

Joshu's calling all the three to come and have a cup of tea was calling them to an intimacy. Friends eat together, so if you see a stranger coming near you when you are eating  you will feel uncomfortable. Strangers feel uncomfortable if they eat together. That's why in a hotel, in a restaurant, things have gone very wrong. Because you are eating with strangers the food becomes poisonous; you are so strained and tense. It is not a family  you are not relaxed.

Food prepared by someone who loves you has a different quality altogether; even the chemical quality changes. And psychologists say when your wife is angry don't allow her to prepare food; it becomes poisonous.

It is difficult, because the wife is almost always angry. And psychologists say when you are eating, if your wife starts creating trouble -- talking, arguing -- stop eating.

But then you will die, because the wife almost always creates trouble while you are eating. This is a very non-loving world. The wife knows, if she has a small understanding, that the worst time to create any conflict is while the husband is taking food, because when he is strained, tense, not relaxed, food becomes poisonous and it will take a longer time to digest it. Psychologists say twice the time will be needed to digest the food and the whole body suffers.

Food is intimacy, it is love. And Zen masters always invite you for tea. They will take you in the tearoom and give you tea; they are giving you food, drink. They are telling you, "Become intimate. Don't stand so far away come nearer. Feel homey. ,"

These are the dimensions of the story, but they are dimensions of feeling. You cannot understand  but you can feel, and feeling is a higher understanding love is a higher knowing. And the heart is the most supreme center of knowledge, not the mind; the mind is just secondary, workable, utilitarian. You can know the surface through the mind, you can never know the center.

But you have forgotten the heart completely, as if it has become a nothingness; you don't know anything about it.

If I talk about the heart, the heartcenter, you think about the lungs not about the heart.

The lungs are not the heart; the lungs are just the body of the heartcenter. The heart is hidden in the lungs, somewhere deep down. Just as in your body the soul is hidden, in your lungs the heart is hidden. It is not a physical thing, so if you go to a physician he will say there is no heart, no heartcenter, only lungs.

The heart has its own ways of knowing. Joshu can be understood only through the heart.

If you try to understand through the intellect it is possible you may misunderstand, but understanding is not possible - that much is certain.

Anything more?


Next: Chapter 4: Have a Cup of Tea, Question 1


Energy Enhancement                Enlightened Texts                Zen                 A Bird on the Wing



Chapter 4


  • Talks on Zen, A Bird on the Wing Chapter 4: Have a Cup of Tea

  • Talks on Zen, A Bird on the Wing Chapter 4: Have a Cup of Tea, Question 1





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