The Teacup

Layered Lenses

 “I’ll tell you a story about the Supreme Patriarch, something I’ve heard from other people. He went to China and, when he arrived, the Chinese gave him a teacup. It was really beautiful. There was nothing like it in Thailand. And as soon as he received the teacup, he suffered: Where was he going to put it?

Where was he going to keep it? He put it in his shoulder bag. If anyone touched his shoulder bag, he’d say, “Watch out. Don’t break the teacup. Watch out for the thing that can break in there.” So he was always worried about it, suffering from it: suffering from having and then clinging. That’s what made him suffer.

One day a novice let the teacup slip from his hand and it broke. The Supreme Patriarch said, “At last. That’s the end of my suffering.” This is called events happening to free him from his suffering. If the teacup hadn’t broken, he would’ve probably been reborn as a hungry ghost right there.

It’s like the things in your house. If there’s nothing there, you suffer because you want to have things. You think that once you have things, you’ll be comfortable. But once you have them, you still suffer because you’re afraid they’ll get lost. You don’t understand the suffering that’s already arisen.”

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