Trees, Tea, and Emptiness
I am sitting at a rustic table, its surface made from rough-hewn boards with saw marks clearly visible. I have a vision of the time when the tree was felled. The sky on that day was slightly overcast and the sawyer took a moment to honor the life he was taking. The tree fell with a crack and thud, throwing a cloud of dust into the air. Startled birds fluttered away and then everything became silent. As the dust settled and the forest returned to vibrant stillness, the sawyer took a moment to reflect.
Of course, this scenario is only a meandering of my mind through a forest of created thoughts. But I am somehow transported into the world with heightened sensitivity. The table upon which my green tea rests is no longer dead. It is alive in my heart and mind. I offer a prayer for the tree as well as the leaves from which my tea was brewed. I also pray for the harvesters, and the brewers, and the people they love…
When the mind becomes steeped in bodhicitta, every experience transports us beyond our limited view of the world. Compassion is evoked at every twist and turn of life because everything is everything else—no dividing line. Self and other become self-less and other-less. This table and this tea call me to become more conscious and kind because they are emissaries of the vast interconnected web of life in which I have momentarily appeared.
This is the world beyond our limited habits of seeing—empty of boundary. When Buddha taught about emptiness, this is what he had in mind. He awoke to the vastness unseen by a mind with borders, the mind enslaved by the illusion of ego-grasping. When we reclaim our original insight, we see though the eyes of Buddha, open to limitless wonder in each moment. Oh my, what did they put in this tea?