Back in January, 2016 I wrote a post called, Four Minute Meditation. I described a morning meditation I do while steeping my cup of tea. I still do this every morning and I’d like to explain it again in light of the sadness of political events taking place here, (the U.S.) and across the world. Buddhism teaches an idea called, “Dependent arising.” It says all physical and mental states arise from previous physical and mental states. In other words, nothing is independent. Everything you think, do, or say, occurs because of something else that you thought, did, or said previously. It makes sense to me and it also fits that all people, animals, insects, in fact, all living beings are dependent on each other. That’s where my morning meditation comes in. It goes like this:
While steeping my tea each morning, I think about all the people, and things that are involved with me being able to have a cup of that tea each day. I drink black tea which is grown in India, or China, and other places. It is mostly grown on tea plantations. Growing the tea is dependent on thousands of workers who plant, and take care of the tea bushes. They pick the tea, mostly by hand, and some places use machines. The leaves are then delivered to the manufacturing plant where they are processed into the various types of tea such as, green tea, black, oolong, pu-erh, or what ever. The process is labor intensive, involving lot’s of people. Then it’s packaged, and trucked out to shipping warehouses where it is stored until ready to ship to the world. Warehouse workers, dock workers, office people, deck hands, ship workers, truckers, pilots, airport workers, and many, many more people are involved in the movement of the tea.
When the tea is received at it’s port of call, many more workers are involved to move the tea to companies that sell it to consumers. People on Wall street are involved. Workers who build trucks, ships, and airplanes are involved. People who build machines, and maintain roads, and keep and protect laws are involved. When I buy my tea, either at a store or online, thousands of workers are involved who work at those stores, or maintain online structures. Bankers are involved who process payments. And finally, when I make my tea, manufacturers who made my tea pot, and my stove, and my cups and tea strainer, and my house and the clothes I wear, and my Doctor who helps me maintain my health are all involved. Bees that pollinate tea bushes make honey for my tea, and beekeepers are involved. All of the people who are involved in me having a cup of tea every morning have families. Those families are dependent on the workers making a wage. The list goes on and on. And now it’s hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people that are involved in my having a cup of tea in the morning.
And all of these people, come from a huge variety of backgrounds. They are various sexes, they have various beliefs, they are various races, dispositions, orientations, and so are all of the people who they are involved with. I think it’s safe to say that the entire world is somehow involved in my having a cup of tea in the morning. It’s a very humbling thought. To realize that the whole world is involved with the whole world. Our political struggles, how and what we think of the rest of the world, what Democrats think of Republicans, what Christians think of Muslims, all seems petty and small when you think about how involved we are with a world of people we will never meet and yet those people are important to us in so many ways. Ways we mostly don’t think about when we’re selecting a product from the shelf of a store.
So each morning as I’m steeping my tea, I think about this. It takes four minutes to steep my tea and in that time I connect to the whole world. My suggestion is that you should do this too. You are one of billions of people, struggling to live a life each day on this planet. You are much more like everyone else than you are different. The person you see down the street, leaving their house each morning to go to work, may be, and quite likely is, involved with your life somehow, even though you have never met. People thousands of miles away, separated from you by oceans, are involved in your life. And because most of them have families, they are involved too. It does us a world of good to remember this. To think about it. To feel gratitude for all these people and all the things they do for us even though we will never know them, and all the things we do for them, is very humbling. It makes us realize our place in this huge but small world.