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tiny tea set

 

It’s just a gentle cup of tea.

It’s not easy to keep track… nowadays… of all the places, people, animals, environments and situations affected by every item of food and drink we take into our bodies.  

Isn’t that true?

tea picking - Rwanda

tea picking - Rwanda

I thought about this more a few years back, after I saw a stunning close-up Sebastião Salgado photograph of the hands of a Rwandan tea-picker.   A tea-picker… who undoubtedly was the second or third, maybe even the fourth generation in his or her family to have been stripped of land, and forced to labour for the contractors of absentee owners – now living in some distant European, Asian or American country.  

Looking closer, you see that the hands extended towards the camera were bloodied with numerous small cuts, almost like the paper-cuts we encounter occasionally in our offices… cuts made by the jagged edges of the leaves.   For tea… for the tea used in our benign and genteel Buddhist ceremonies of “no harm” and gracious hospitality.

So what does this all mean, exactly, then – to dedicate fully one’s drink or one’s meal?  

I guessed there could be a way to at least partially acknowledge everything that and everyone who transpired (and perhaps expired) before the fork-full or gulp hits our mouths.  So looking at a bunch of Tibetan meal-time prayers, and getting the gist of what I was hoping to do, in 2004 I came up with a prayer of my own.

Here it is:

 

This wealth of nourishment before me has been blessed, created, energized and transported to me by many beings.  

Those beings and energies grew, ripened, grew tired and grew older, and were compromised to bring sustenance to my table and my mouth.

May I be mindful of these blessings, and be thankful to those beings and resources who have been worked and been taken from to contribute to my life.

May all that I take into myself be joyfully transformed by my thoughts, my words and my actions for the benefit of all sentient beings.

May my teachers be equally or better nourished, be protected from harm, and be surrounded by attentive and caring students.

 

That should do it.   For a little more about tea-picking, see here.

salgado_teapickershands Salgado – “Tea Picker’s Hands”

June 2017
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