Drink Your Tea
by John Super,
ATCQA Certified Instructor (Level I), published in September 2019
Every once in a while, I read something that moves me by its beauty and simplicity. When it happens, I immediately commit it to memory (if it is short enough) and recite it several times during the day. It thus becomes a part of my life. It happened a couple of weeks as I was drinking my tea and getting ready to go to a Tai Chi class that my wife and I teach. "Drink Your Tea" offers such wisdom and utility that I was anxious to talk about it with our class. Here is Thich Nhat Hahn's "Drink Your Tea."
Drink your tea slowly and reverently,
as if it is the axis
on which the world-earth revolves
- slowly, evenly, without
rushing toward the future;
Live the actual moment
Only this moment is life
Most of you are probably familiar with Thich Nhat Hahn. Many words have been used to describe him, but it suffices to say that he is a Buddhist who has made many contributions to understanding the nature of reality. Born in Vietnam (1926), he has promoted peace in his writings and teachings, and, as importantly, in his life of simplicity, mindfulness, and compassion. Not content to sit and meditate in the monastery, he has reached out and engaged the global community, helping to transform the lives of millions. In recognition of his efforts, this year he received the first Gandhi Mandela Peace Medal.
His poem is a beautiful metaphor for Tai Chi. Each move of the form resonates with life, if we allow it to unfold slowly, softly, and gracefully. Each move is life itself, and we need not do the whole form in order to experience the meaning of Tai Chi. For me this is still one of the most difficult principles of Tai Chi, and I admit it often to classes. You can learn several forms of Tai Chi and seemingly demonstrate them to classes, but if you lack "jing" and "song" Tai Chi will always be a struggle. The stillness and quiet of jing and the softness and loosening of song help us to do the form "slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future." Prepare for Tai Chi carefully and do it with gratitude.
Thank Thich for this insight into Tai Chi.