Intuition makes a good cup of tea

We live in a time and age of self-optimization, quantification and instant gratification. We like to measure, analyze and evaluate if things could be optimized or be better or go faster. We get really busy doing that and it’s big business too. People are hooked on that. There is huge money in distracting ourselves with unnecessary things, while pretending how cool it is.

How does that serve us? While all that analyzing might make sense within many fields of human existence and science I ask myself if we actually truly benefit from having so much self-checking in our daily lives? I totally doubt it.

What about intuition? Remember that? This human superpower, this sort of inner voice or gut feeling that for example gives you instant feedback if your are about to do the “right thing” or something not so healthy or even delusional? You don’t need a device, app or AI for that. You can actually trust yourself and train that ability. Many years of Zen training certainly did that for me.

Trusting your intuition is important to develop resilience and inner strength which than will help you deal with stress much better. And this has nothing to with being tough and hard like a samurai. It has much more to do with truly and patiently believing in yourself and your own timing. Trusting that what you do and how you do it, is the way how things roll. All you need to do is paying attention to what is — in every given moment.

Here is a little story that might illustrate that point:

One time my Zen teacher visited our first small Zen center in Dresden. I set up a tea table and everything to prepare a delicious Japanese green tea for him while we had a quiet time in my room. In those days I was still a beginner in the art of making tea and I really liked Japanese green tea. To make everything just „right“ I had a timer to measure how long the tea is brewing and I had a thermometer to measure the temperature of the boiled water. Green tea is very sensitive and delicate and those two factors have a huge influence on how the tea will turn out. Again, I was just starting in the art of making tea and this is how I rolled with it learning it all by myself. But suddenly before I could start with the preparation, he took the thermometer and the timer away and said:

„You don’t need that. Just trust your intuition. Trust your senses. Thats how you make a good tea and thats what Zen is about. Intuition. And 100% trusting in it. No matter what happens.“

I was moved and started to make the tea just following what he just said, not using the measurement tools. Than he added:

„It doesn’t matter if the tea comes out just right from the start. Don’t check with those tools. Rather learn from the process. Sometimes you might use too much tea leaf or brew it too long. Maybe you got distracted, too much thinking and checking and so you didn’t really pay close attention to what is happening right in front of your eyes. Than the tea will turn out too strong and taste bitter. Or you pour the water, not having it cooled down enough, than this will damage the sensitive tea leaf and effect the taste as well. In any case: just do it. Don’t check. Trust your intuition, do your best. Just try. Learn from the results and adjust accordingly. Over time you will master the art of making tea and it will teach you so much, that you wouldn’t have learned by using all this measurement tools.“

That was many years ago and I have been pouring tea every since without any of those measurement tools. By spending time around tea loving practitioners, by simply paying attention and watching the process I learned all those little things: for example how you perceive the water temperature after boiling it and pouring into another bowl, where it cools down before you pour it onto the tea leaf. The steam rising from the water bowl tells you about the water temperature and so does your hand when you touch the bowl.

If the room you are in, is cold, the steam is different from when the room temperature is warm. It’s the awareness for those things that will create a delicious cup of tea. It’s your trust into your own senses that will create beauty and allow your creativity to flower and blossom. It’s the intimacy with the very moment and how present you can be within this moment.

When you become One with it, with your environment, things will naturally fall into place. Trust in your intuition is key. In every field of life.

Learn from yourself by allowing your own senses to be your teacher.

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Mu Bul 無佛

Mu Bul 無佛

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Zen priest, M.A. Philosophy, who loves and does arts, photography and poetry. Above all loves life and the inevitable truth that appears by living it to death.