Tea with Omar

Poet Shin Yu Pai traces the innuendoes of a post-zazen tea service.

Shin Yu Pai

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Ten minutes of zazen is followed by tea service in the shrine room of Karma Dzong. The tea, boiling hot, does not affect any of the other meditators. The other practitioners gulp it down and dry their cups, returning to sitting posture. I whisper to my friend Omar, “I’m not done yet.” Eyeing the four sips of tea that remain in the bottom of my cup, I realize there is little possibility that the tiny cloth square used to dry the ceramic will absorb the remaining liquid. Omar says calmly, “Drink it.” The umdze [chant master] scowls and I finish, not tasting a drop, as I envision getting whacked with a stick by T’ang Master Ma-tsu.

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