A layperson invited me to join a tea ceremony at a Japanese club in Hawaii. The tea ceremony was in a Japanese woman’s house. She explained about the tea ceremony to her guests. There were about 10 people that day. I was the only bhikkhu in the ceremony. They were very excited to see a bhikkhu. There are two things in tea ceremony we have to take: the first is candy, and the second is tea. After we finished the tea ceremony, I remembered a story I read from a Haiku book. The story goes that there are a few candies in a tray. The Zen student tells his Zen teacher “I’m confused. Which candy should I choose?” The Zen teacher answers, “The one that is closest to you.” After I read this story, I though “Is this the right way? Can I practice like this? When I take a piece of pie in the kitchen, do I take the one closest to me?” I will try to find the answer.
I remember an Ajahn Chah teaching: “If there are two apples, a big one and a small one, the mind want to take the big one, but don’t follow it. Take the small one and give the big one to friends". If we are in doubt about our practice, look into the mind. If defilements in our mind are growing, we are practicing in the wrong way. If defilements in our mind are dropping, we are practicing in the right way.
Revised by Kaccana Bhikkhu