The ancestry of tea is shrouded in myth but the most auspicious tale is of Yan Di, who was also known as Emperor Shen Nong the Holy Farmer in the Xia Dynasty (2737-2697 BC). According to legend, Yan Di was also known as the “God of Medicine” because of his intuitive ability to combine wild-crafted herbs and plants for their medicinal properties. One cool autumn afternoon, Yan Di was resting and boiling some water to drink when the leaves from the Camellia Sinensis Tree blew into his bubbling pot. Tasting the elixir, Yan Di felt invigorated and had a sense of purification – as though the toxins in his body were magically evaporating. The Emperor declared ‘Tea gives vigour to the body, contentment to the mind and determination of purpose.”
Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era, received an accomplished scholar who came to inquire about Zen. Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring. The scholar watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!” Like this cup, Nan-in said, you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?
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