Articles/Essays From Pagans
December 1st. 2013 ...
A Pragmatic Look at Neo Paganism
The Tarot as a Tool for Raising Consciousness
Leaving a Pagan Group – Part 1: To Leave or to Stay?
November 24th. 2013 ...
The Pagan and the Papacy
The Groovy Aquarian Christ: Jesus From a Pagan Perspective
November 17th. 2013 ...
For Love of the God
Which Witch? Philosophical and Psychological Roots of Wicca
A Threat to Religious Liberties?
November 10th. 2013 ...
Where did Aleister Crowley’s Influence on Wicca Go?
Thoughts on the Threefold Law/Law of Return
Nine Creeds: A Statement and Explanation of My Beliefs
The Celtic Tree Calendar
November 3rd. 2013 ...
The Mundane/Spiritual Mirror: What Does it Say About Your Life?
October 27th. 2013 ...
Thoughts On a Miley-Cyrus/ Robin-Thicke Society
On Being Wiccan: Some Unsolicited Advice
Pagan Religious Communities in your Area: Connecting With and Creating Them
Banishing, Invocation and the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram
October 20th. 2013 ...
Weather Magick: Who is Responsible for the Weather?
Broom Closet: In or Out?
Bottle Spells and Magick in Hoodoo Tradition
On Coven and Claws
October 13th. 2013 ...
Destroying to Create: A Lesson from the Dead
Consume the Scorpion- Scorpion Energy Revisited
October 6th. 2013 ...
UPG and U: A Breakdown and Building Up of Unverified and Unsubstantiated Personal Gnosis
Answering The Call from Spirit
Coping with the Loss of a Familiar
The Five-way Road: A Pagan Pilgrimage, Part 2 (The South)
September 29th. 2013 ...
Six Reasons Why Covens are Here to Stay
Priestessing and Titles: What's the Point?
Truth or Convenience? Questioning Motives for Spiritual Advancement
Speaking Up: The Conflict Between the Spiritualist and Our Human Experience
September 22nd. 2013 ...
Death of a Friendship within the Craft
The Five-way Road: A Pagan Pilgrimage, Part 1 (The Center)
September 15th. 2013 ...
Some Pagan Prayers
Lunar Insight Moon Musings: Bramble and Cerridwen
The Holocaust Survivor (Part II)
September 8th. 2013 ...
Introduction to the Five-way Road: A Pagan Pilgrimage
The Druidic Concept of Nwyfre
The Holocaust Survivor (Part 1)
Giving and Helping
September 1st. 2013 ...
Use a Flyswatter for a Fly: More on the Dark Arts
How Spells Work
Is It Really 'Energy'?
August 25th. 2013 ...
Mother Nature’s Way: Forging a Distinctly American Path
Healing Moon Ritual
Unconditional Love: The Paradox of Perfect Love
Earth to Soul/Sole
August 18th. 2013 ...
How Not to Fall in the Bunny Trap
Why Are You Like That? Thoughts on Hoodoo and Appropriation
Finding the Right Coven
The Knowledge Found in Silence
Moon Musings, Planetary Preponderances, Hazelnuts and Magick Wands
August 11th. 2013 ...
“I Survived a Weekend with Galina Krasskova”
The Charges of the Goddess and God with Commentary
August 4th. 2013 ...
Fair Weather Witches
Pagan Studies II: Modern Paganism in the Americas
Pagan Abbeys - A Practical Heritage for Spiritual Lay and Professional Cloistered Communities
July 28th. 2013 ...
Crystals 101: A Helpful Guide For Beginners
The More the Merrier? It’s not Only an Inaccuracy; it’s an All Out Farce!
My Pagan Manifesto
July 21st. 2013 ...
I'm a Witch, Not a Wiccan: A Brief Summary of Broad Pagan Designations
Rethinking Community for Solitaries
13 Keys: The Beauty of Tiphareth
July 14th. 2013 ...
Ramblings of a Pagan Guy: Stupid Clichés We Use (Part II)
Pagan Humanism: A Tradition of Rational Religion
Moon/Planetary Musings: The Holly King and John Barleycorn
July 7th. 2013 ...
Coping With Depression: Learning to Dance with the Sacred Twins
Shamanic Healing of Anxiety and Panic Attacks
Humility and Community Service
H is for Hubris
June 30th. 2013 ...
How To Feel The Energy Around You
Planning A Ritual
Why Pagans Might Benefit from Counseling Techniques
The Weight of Contemplation: When the Silent Self Grows Louder
June 23rd. 2013 ...
Magick and Play
Tarot Spell for Protection
Moon Musings and Planetary Preponderances: RE-fuse, RE-duce, RE-use, RE-pair and RE-cycle
June 16th. 2013 ...
How To Stay Spiritual Amidst This Chaos?
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Teahouse Practice and Deep Peace
Article ID: 12228
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 2,196
Times Read: 3,874
RSS Views: 37,956
Author: Alison Leigh Lilly
Posted: December 2nd. 2007
Times Viewed: 3,874
"Deep peace of the running wave to you,
Deep peace of the flowing air to you,
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you,
Deep peace of the sleeping stones to you!"
- Fiona Macleod
In Zen Buddhism, there is an ideal of mindful presence known as "teahouse practice." The term comes from the analogy of an old woman who runs a teahouse on the edge of town. She is wise in the dharma and has cultivated a quiet joy about her that pervades her every action and even the very atmosphere. And though she never teaches or preaches a word about Buddhism, everyone in town is drawn to the teahouse without knowing why.
I have always loved this story and, for a long time, it has been an ideal of mine to have the kind of presence that this woman possesses. Often times, people such as myself become so invested in our communication skills, our ability to convince and convert. We appeal to reason, we work with emotions, we enlist the help of beauty, metaphor and mystery to make our case for us. When we believe something and find it to be meaningful, powerful and above all joyful, we want to share it with the world. As a writer, I have always felt driven to communicate my ponderings and questions, as well as a few tentative replies or theories here and there. But I have also learned to accept the limitations of overt communication.
This is where teahouse practice comes in. If you are anything like me, you sometimes underestimate the power of direct, nonverbal communication. We all know the thrill of flirtatious body language and the pain of being given "the silent treatment, " but we forget that even our everyday actions, when performed with intention, can be deeply meaningful.
And this meaning is not just for ourselves, but also for others.
When we cultivate a peaceful, mindful presence in the world, we help ourselves to find peace, but we also demonstrate peace and love to and for others. We appeal directly to the cores of their being in the hope that they will respond. They might not know what it is about our presence that comforts, soothes or energizes them, but they can feel it.
In the more common terms of witchcraft, when we tune ourselves to the "good vibrations" of peace, happiness and gratitude, we can raise the vibration level of those around us, even if we never say a word.
When I imagine the ideal magical self that I hope to become, I recognize immediately that one of her most noticeable traits is this ability to influence others in this positive, uplifting way. Her entire life is a "teahouse practice" in which her every action speaks love and thankfulness, whether at work or play, whether with strangers or friends.
I had always assumed that this type of mindful presence was quite a difficult thing to accomplish and that, in addition, once I had accomplished it, I would feel different. I would instinctively know that I was having such an effect on others, and so would they.
As I've walked the meditative path of Craft and Druidry, however, I've come to reevaluate this expectation.
It has been over two years now since the most important romantic relationship in my life abruptly ended. In the time since, I've gone through many natural emotional ups and downs, questioning the value of my companionship, worrying that new relationships would weaken bonds of friendship, and doubtful, even cynical, about future romantic relationships.
During this time, I often reminded myself of teahouse practice and sought inspiration in the idea that, even when I do not have a direct relationship with anyone, I still had much to give to others by cultivating my own mindful presence and finding peace even in difficult and emotionally-trying times.
Still, I would often grow frustrated with myself if no one seemed to notice. I would tell myself, "You are not doing anyone any good; they don't even notice your mood. You could go into work peaceful and grateful everyday, and people would still complain and moan and have screwed-up priorities, and you would still feel isolated and alone even within your peace. So what's the point?"
Then one winter night, I had a mini-revelation, brought on by the question: What would it actually feel like to be effective at teahouse practice? And furthermore, how do I know it would feel any different? And the truth was, I didn't know.
Then I began to think back, about the number of times that someone at work--whether a coworker or customer--had told me how kind, cheerful or helpful I always seemed to be. And every time, I had smiled and thanked them and felt a momentary happiness in having been able to satisfy their needs, but in the next moment, I shrugged it off, telling myself, "Well, they only say that because they don't really know me."
What a self-defeating process that was!
In the story of the old woman, her regular patrons at the teahouse do not even realize her loving influence on them, let alone have the presence of mind to thank her for it. And here I was, ignoring the very people who were telling me directly that I had affected them!
What I realized then was that teahouse practice also takes a certain amount of trust and faith in other people and their capacity to be receptive to your mindful intentions. It is this idea of faith in the face of difficult or trying service that I feel traditional witchcraft sometimes overlooks. Without the hope that others are taking in and benefiting from your actions and vibrations whether they realize it or not, it's easy to grow discouraged and imagine that you are isolated and ignored.
But this is not true.
Teahouse practice is about what you put out into the world, what you do that can make the world just a bit more joyful and loving--it is not about how others react, or the warm-fuzzy gratification you might feel.
After all, you can't control how others will respond. Each individual is engaged in struggles unique to his or her own life. What you can offer is love and peace, a sanctuary built of purposeful service where they might seek some shelter.
And you might not feel any different. You might still feel alone and misunderstood.
I think back to the story of the old woman and wonder if she ever felt lonely, if she ever felt like people were just using her for her "good vibes" and no one loved her for who she really was in the more complex depths of her soul. And I'm sure she had her moments, as we all do.
But she also did not let that stop her from continuing her work. She did not let these passing insecurities keep her from her loving-kindness.
Copyright: An early version of this essay appeared in Pulse Like Water, (c) January 2006
Alison Leigh Lilly
Location: Seattle, Washington
Author's Profile: To learn more about Alison Leigh Lilly - Click HERE
Bio: Ali is a young woman seeking to establish herself as a "working poet" while pursuing a life founded in contemplation, wild wisdom and creative, loving freedom. Her interests lie in Druidry, Celtic mythology, cereology and other random occult and Craft topics.
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