Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Cup Is Broken

This morning during breakfast my wife grasped her coffee mug for the first sip of the day. Instead of that warm and comforting taste, she received a surprise. As she lifted the mug, the handle rose with her hand while the mug full of coffee stayed on the table. Although she was startled, she burst out laughing at the bizarreness of what had just happened.

We had had that mug for a few years but it certainly didn't seem that far gone or fragile. As I reflected on it, what came to mind was a comment from Ajahn Chah, the 20th century Thai Buddhist teacher. He offered a teaching by holding up a tea cup and commenting that "this cup is already broken." In other words, its very nature is impermanence so don't get attached to it.

In the practice of Insight Meditation we are often encouraged to watch the rise and fall of whatever has our attention in each moment. Over time, as we increasingly see the impermanence of this or that moment of experience, we slowly relax our grip on life. We become more comfortable with life as it is. We don't struggle with life so much and the mind becomes more silent while the heart opens more and more. In time, as we rest in this silent mind-open heart there are longer periods of just seeing rising and falling and knowing the joy that comes with non-grasping.

Although the cup is already broken, the coffee tastes great!