Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Chuang Tze's Cup of Tea

My old friend, Chuang Tze, came for a visit. Every morning he would brew a peculiar pot of tea which was not like anything ever concocted before in this world. At 8.00am sharp, he would insist we put out a table in the forecourt, and leave a cup on it filled with his unique brew. Day after day, a few people would walk by but no one tried the tea. So I asked Chuang if I should put out a sign inviting people to sample his tea. But he was adamant that I should do nothing of the kind.

This morning I saw him watching intently as an elderly woman came by the front of the house. She looked at the cup of tea, paused for the briefest moment, and continued her journey. Chuang smiled and went off to sleep on the kitchen floor.

Later Chuang rose to pack his things and get ready for the train he would have to catch. I pressed him to explain what his ritual was all about. I was not surprised when he ignored my request, and instead asked me to brew a pot of tea. He said I must put whatever I wanted to into the pot, mix them in a manner of my choosing, and then pour it out carefully into a cup. “Do you want me to drink it?” he asked. “Absolutely not.” I replied. “Then let us leave the tea in the cup.” He then went off to catch his train.

Chuang’s now gone. I tried out another combination, and poured the resultant brew into a cup. The moment I finished pouring, I began contemplating what I would do next time. Chuang never looked back on whether his tea was drunk by anyone. He was only interested in the making.