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The year was 2737 BC. Chinese Emperor Shen Nung was taking a stroll in his hilly gardens, when the winds started to blow heavily, making leaves fall. And quite a few leaves fell into the water his servant was boiling. The servant being the lazy lad, decided to serve the same water, rather than changing it. Little did he know that the colour had changed and so had the history of beverages across the universe! Tea was discovered!
Fast forward to 1773, in the foothills of Himalayas, was situated the village Kyee, where the fresh air, mountain fragrance, scenes and sounds from village life, and glorious sunrises and sunsets suffused the senses with the beauty and energy of the hills, the Hogwarts of meditators and peace seekers, if you must say.There lived the Shihos, whose family, though lived in the village of meditators, was far from it. And in their nineteenth generation, was born Master Tao. A routine thing for a routine family, you might think, but there was always something special about Master Tao, a sparkle in his eyes, a gleam in his laughter, a whimsical in the wind maybe.
Tao, literally meaning ‘The Way’, had a way for everything. Right from mischievously plucking mangoes from the neighbour’s garden to helping the old farmer walk up the hills. He was dierent somehow, what else could possibly explain his leitmotif “Who knows. Maybe it is good, maybe it is bad”, even as a young lad? He said this when he hurt his knee while playing, but also said the same when his mother gifted him a pet cat, or when he won the race against his friends.
For a juvenile who heaved a cry in the absence of his favourite sweet but also owned up to setting the neighbour’s dog free, he was a misfit in the monastery for reasons obvious, yet he’d sneak in there every now and then, sit in there for hours and watch them meditate. And one fine day, he poached the magic potion. And voila, in the moment of epiphany, he discovered tea. Much like Newton invented gravity, only much better!
There it was- the unraveling. He could see everything much clearly now, the calmness, the sereneness, the consciousness, the peacefulness.
We’re not saying that tea was the reason, but it may well have been the catalyst. And that is when they say Tao retorted to monkism.
While he loved chasing the cows on the fields and making sand castles, he would simply stare at the celestial sky for hours curious about the twinkling bodies up there, and would go swimming with the ducks in the lake.
He was in his youth, and it was time to learn martial arts, as was the culture of the village. One day, the master was watching a practice session in the courtyard. He realized that the presence of the other students was interfering with the young man’s attempts to perfect his technique. The master could sense the young man’s frustration. He went up to the young man and tapped him on his shoulder.
“What’s the problem?” he inquired. “I don’t know,'' said Tao, with a strained expression.“No matter how much I try, I am unable to execute the movesproperly”.
The teacher and student left the premise and walked some distance into the woods until they came upon a stream. The master stood silently on the bank for several moments.Then he spoke.“Look at the stream,” he said. “There are rocks in its way. Does it slam into them out of frustration? It simply flows over and around them and moves on! Be like the water and you will know what harmony is.”
Tao took the master’s advice to heart. Soon, he was barely noticing the other students around him. Nothing could come in his way of executing the most perfect moves. Harmony was in his heart, for now, and forever.