This Cup Is Already Broken

by Ajahn Chah

“You see this goblet?” asks Achaan Chaa, the Thai meditation master. “For me this glass is already broken. I enjoy it; I drink out of it. It holds my water admirably, sometimes even reflecting the sun in beautiful patterns. If I should tap it, it has a lovely ring to it. But when I put this glass on the shelf and the wind knocks it over or my elbow brushes it off the table and it falls to the ground and shatters, I say, ‘Of course.’ When I understand that the glass is already broken, every moment with it is precious.”
~ version by Mark Epstein (from Thoughts Without a Thinker: Psychotherapy from a Buddhist Perspective)

"'One day Ajahn Chah held up a beautiful Chinese tea cup, “To me this cup is already broken. Because I know its fate, I can enjoy it fully here and now. And when it’s gone, it’s gone.'”  When we understand the truth of uncertainty and relax, we become free."
~ version by Jack Kornfield (from The Wise Heart)

Steven's note: I believe I first heard this story from Jack Kornfield in the mid ''80s at a 10-day meditation retreat in Yucca Valley. I wrote my memory of the story in a jounal from that time. As I scanned the internet, I found a surprising amount of versions of this story. I add this story here, as I found that when I have read it to groups aloud they often think it is a poem. A good story often sound like a poem and visa versa a good poem can be a great story.

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