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Zen in Tea and Meal

Zen Master Longtan Chongxin of Tang Dynasty followed Zen Master Tianhuang Daowu for a life as a Buddhist monk. For several years, he had been cutting firewood, carrying water and cooking meals, but he had received no single word of Zen enlightenment from Zen Master Daowu.

One day, he said to his master: “Master! It has been years since I followed you to be a monk, but I receive no Zen enlightenment from you. Please show your mercy and impart Dharma to me!”

Zen Master Daowu answered immediately: “You do me wrong. Just think about it. There’s not a single day that I do not teach you the essence of Dharma.”

“I am too big a fool to swallow what you have taught. Could you please tell me that?” Congxin was puzzled.

 “You serve me tea and I drink it. You serve me meal and I eat it. You put palms together towards me and I nod my head in response. There’s not a single day I dare to be lazy to give you instructions!”

Chongxin was suddenly enlightened.

We can learn from the interlocution that Zen is about life. Trivial things such as cutting firewood, carrying water, drinking tea and having meals in daily life all signify infinite Zen enlightenment.


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