MAX: One of my most memorable tea moments occurred before I ever made it Asia to practice tea ceremony; it wasn’t even during a tea ceremony, and I wasn’t even drinking tea—or so I thought…

Hahn-pacem-2015-colorI was on a meditation retreat with renowned Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh in California. Each morning, all of us participants and monastics walked up a huge hill in silence. At the flat clearing on top, we stood, or sat, arriving in the silence and cool of the dawn. All two-thousand eyes were drawn to the middle of a semi-circle we’d formed, where Thay (“teacher”, pronounced like ‘Thai’) sat on the earth in his puffy coat and hat, sipping tea from a thermos in profound peace and silence.

The moment was beyond time, beyond thought. Somehow, Thay’s simple way of enjoying tea conveyed endless volumes of meaning, yet which could not be read by the mind, only the heart. He looked toward the morning sun through the steam rising from his small cup, which he held between reverent palms. As Thay sipped his tea in profound silence, he seemed to be in a place of peace that transcended this moment—and yet I could sense he was holding all of us in his being, so much so that it felt we were all drinking tea as one with him.

As the gentle cool wind blows across my face
and the golden sun dissolves the dew
from the tall grasses around us,
I notice the day being summoned awake
with each pure cup of the master’s tea.

—Max

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See a clip of Thich Nhat Hanh explaining to Oprah how he drinks tea!

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