Tea with Lao Tzu*

I invite Lao Tzu to tea
on a quilt spread in an
open glen by a river

He accepts and sits
cross-legged facing me
we both nod our greetings

“What can you teach me, Lao Tzu?”
“Be quiet in stillness.”
I pour tea into his tiny cup

“My mind wanders so.
How can I learn stillness?”
I fill my teacup as well

“I have trouble quieting my mind in meditation.
What should I do?”
“You are a river, keep flowing.”

We sip tiny sips from our cups
with river music behind us,
steam tickles my nose with
each sip

When teatime concludes
we nod our goodbyes and
dissolve back to our worlds
in silence

Let muddy water stand and it will become clear. – Lao Tzu

This poem is part of a series about people who have influenced my life. Others include: Walking with Thich Nhat Hanh,  Sweet Baby James,  For Billy and Chopping Veggies with the Buddha.

* “Lao Tzu was an ancient Chinese philosopher and poet, well-known for penning the book Tao Te Ching. He was the founder of philosophy of Taoism, a religious and ethical custom of ancient China…

Like various ancient Chinese philosophers, Lao Tzu made use of rhyme and rhythm, paradoxes and interesting analogies to get his point across in Tao Te Ching. In reality, the entire book can be considered as one great analogy…

Lao Tzu’s philosophy was a simple one. He was against effort and striving, as he thought struggle is not only futile but also hinders productivity. In his theory of ‘wu-wei’, he advises to simply do nothing. By this he means not to go against the forces of nature, wait for the gush of events nature brings to you and dive right in. He advised not to struggle to change the natural order of things, but to bring spontaneity to one’s actions as one holds on to the nature’s way of life…

Lao Tzu’s works have continued to influence individuals and anti-authoritarian campaigns around the world. Belonging to the sixth century, Lao Tzu, a title given to the great philosopher meaning ‘Old Teacher’, taught the world the importance of the ways of nature and how embracing the principle of doing nothing can help achieve everything.” (from Lao Tzu in “Famous Philosophers)

NOTE: I first learned about Taoism from a delightful book called Toa of Pooh which introduced me to the principles of Taoism through the eyes of Winnie the Pooh and friends.

Painting of Lao Tzu by Jane Small at Fine Art America

15 thoughts on “Tea with Lao Tzu*

    1. Thank you, Jazz. I read an article called “Talking to Bodhistattvas” and actually had this “conversation” with Lao Tzu during a meditation session. It was inspiring. I had already drafted this poem two years ago so after that meditative inspiration I revised and this is what came of it. I so appreciate you stopping by and I also appreciate your comments. Feel the steam tickle with your next cup of tea. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I really enjoyed this introduction to Lao Tzu, with the information and links. But it was your poem that I found very intriguing. I love the idea of sharing tea with Lao Tzu by the river and receiving his wise words. Your words here are truly wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, Jet. Taoist philosophy has really had an impact on my life. I highly recommend The Tao of Pooh. It is such a delightful book. In the book it talks about the game of Pooh sticks where you stand on a bridge and two or more drop their sticks over the bridge and then run to the other side to see which stick emerges first. My husband and I play it almost every time we walk over a bridge in the nature center near our house. Once we were doing it and a total stranger came up with his two little ones and said, “You must be playing Pooh sticks.” What a wonderful way to connect with strangers. You and Athena hike a lot. Think about playing the (noncompetitive) game when you come to a bridge. It is a nice pause to enjoy the river/stream.


      1. I, too, am a follower of Taoist (and Zen) philosophy, LuAnne, but I have never read The Tao of Pooh. Although I have heard of the bridge game with sticks, I have never played it. And now I will, with great thanks to you. I am smiling, with thanks.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Kamal. The poetry of the Tao te Ching has had a great influence on my life – and for the better. There is a link in this post to the complete collection of poems in the Tao te Ching. Check it out if you are interested. It is quite thought provoking. Glad you dropped by and I appreciate the comment.


      1. Yes I saw the link and I too will read his works actually Wayne Dyer too has written a book on him. You will like reading his book. All about who he was and how impactful he is for all of us today. You are always welcome LuAnne. Take care and stay safe ❤️🌷🌷😊😊

        Liked by 1 person

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