A Tale of Tea

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As I grow older (53 today), my years of training (formally since I was 16) in different arts melt together and I find my lessons finally coalescing into something different. Now, I could care less about combat. It is meaningless. The more receptive you are, the less threatening you find immediate dangerous situation. Now, all I want to hear about are tales of masters sharing wisdom over a hot cup of tea.

In a quiet teahouse nestled in the mountains between the Wu Dan mountains and the Shaolin temple, two master martial artists sat across from each other, sipping on cups of fragrant tea. One was a Shaolin monk named Master Wu, while the other was a Wu Dan priest named Master Li.

Despite their different paths in life, the two had a deep respect for each other’s skills and knowledge. As they drank their tea, they engaged in a spirited discussion about the key differences in their philosophies of Daoism and Ch’an Buddhism.

Master Li spoke first, his voice soft but filled with conviction. “In Daoism, we believe in the natural flow of things, the way of the universe. We strive to cultivate our own inner energy, or Qi, and align ourselves with the rhythms of nature. In contrast, Ch’an Buddhism emphasizes the practice of meditation to reach enlightenment and break free from the cycle of suffering.”

Master Wu nodded thoughtfully, taking a sip of tea before responding. “Yes, in Ch’an Buddhism, we seek to understand the true nature of reality and attain a state of emptiness and non-attachment. We believe that all things are impermanent and that suffering arises from our attachments to them.”

The two continued to discuss their differing philosophies, each deepening the other’s understanding of their respective practices. They talked about the importance of discipline, focus, and perseverance in mastering their respective arts, and how their paths had led them to similar conclusions about the nature of the world.

Finally, as they finished their tea, Master Li spoke up again. “Despite our differences, it is clear that both Daoism and Ch’an Buddhism share a deep respect for the natural world and a commitment to cultivating inner peace and harmony. We may approach this goal in different ways, but our ultimate goal is the same.”

Master Wu smiled in agreement, setting down his empty cup. “Yes, at the end of the day, it is our shared commitment to spiritual growth and self-improvement that truly unites us. And for that, I am grateful to have shared this cup of tea with you, my friend.”

With that, the two martial artists rose from their seats, bidding each other farewell before going their separate ways. As they walked out into the crisp mountain air, each felt a renewed sense of clarity and purpose, knowing that they had deepened their understanding of both themselves and the world around them.

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