“Every morning I drink from my favorite teacup. I hold it in my hands and feel the warmth of the cup from the hot liquid it contains…”

Someone posted the following on Google+, and before I had a chance to look it up it had already been debunked by Andy Rickford:

The Buddha told his student, ‘Every morning I drink from my favorite teacup. I hold it in my hands and feel the warmth of the cup from the hot liquid it contains. I breathe in the aroma of my tea and enjoy my mornings in this way. But in my mind the teacup is already broken.’

You’ll find this on a lot of blogs (although no books — yet) and I suspect it came from Heartbeats, where Camille introduces the story and then says “This is a story I first heard a few years ago and I refer to it whenever I feel the pull towards becoming too attached to anything or anyone.”

This is obviously not the Buddha. Teacups? In India 2,500 years ago? It seems Camille has misremembered an example of impermanence that Ajahn Chah was fond of recounting, which Andy kindly excavated:

Before saying a word, he [Ajahn Chah] motioned to a glass at his side. “Do you see this glass?” he asked us. “I love this glass. It holds the water admirably. When the sun shines on it, it reflects the light beautifully. When I tap it, it has a lovely ring. Yet for me, this glass is already broken. When the wind knocks it over or my elbow knocks it off the shelf and it falls to the ground and shatters, I say, ‘Of course.’ But when I understand that this glass is already broken, every minute with it is precious.”

It’s a beautiful story and a beautiful teaching that’s full in line with the Buddha’s teaching. But it’s not the Buddha.

Incidentally, the anachronisms in this quote are so outstanding that it’s astonishing anyone would think it dated to the time of the Buddha. Teacups? Really? If the quote had referred to a “coffee mug” instead I wonder is there would still be people who think it was a saying from the Buddha? Possibly!

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