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Zhaozhou’s Cup of Tea

Zhaozhou’s Cup of Tea

Zhaozhou asked a newly arrived monastic, “Have you been here before?”
The monastic said, “Yes, I have been here.”
Zhaozhou said, “Have a cup of tea.”
Later he asked another monastic, “Have you been here before?”
The monastic said, “No, I haven’t been here.”
Zhaozhou said, “Have a cup of tea.”
The monastery director then asked Zhaozhou, “Aside from the one who has been here, why did you say, ‘Have a cup of tea’ to the one who had not been here?”
Zhaozhou said, “Director.”
The director responded, “Yes?”
Zhaozhou said, “Have a cup of tea.”

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Student: “Why did Zhaozhou always say, ‘Have a cup of tea’?”
Master: “Because there is nothing else.”
Student: “I can drink tea. Why am I still not enlightened?”
Master: “Because you drink tea with a mouth.”
Student: “How could I drink tea without using a mouth?”
Master: “What is left in the cup after you drink tea?”
Student: “Nothing.”
Master: “Drink it. It is not what you can drink with a mouth.”
Student: “How could I drink it?”
Master: “It’s already in your mouth. Why don’t you enjoy its taste?”

Commentary:
Don’t die of thirst while floundering in inescapably deep water.

©Boo Ahm

All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway

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