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Chapter 4: Have a Cup of Tea

Familiarity creates boredom; you never receive the familiar. You never look at your wife. She has been with you for many, many years and you have completely forgotten that she exists. What is the face of your wife? Have you looked at her recently? You may have completely forgotten her face. If you close your eyes and meditate and remember, you may remember the face you looked on for the first time. But your wife has been a flux, a river, constantly changing. The face has changed; now she has become old. The river has been flowing and flowing, new bends have been reached; the body has changed. Have you looked at her recently? She is so familiar there is no need to look. We look at something which is unfamiliar; we look at something which strikes us as strange. They say familiarity breeds contempt: it breeds boredom.

I have heard an anecdote: two businessmen, very rich, were relaxing on Miami Beach. They were lying down, taking a sunbath. One said, “I can never understand what people see in Elizabeth Taylor, the actress. I don’t understand what people see, why they become so mad. What is there? You take her eyes away, you take her hair away, you take her lips away, you take her figure away, and what is left, what have you got?”

The other man grunted, became sad and replied, “My wife - that’s what’s left.”

That is what has become of your wife, of your husband - nothing is left. Because of familiarity, everything has disappeared. Your husband is a ghost; your wife is a ghost with no figure, with no lips, with no eyes - just an ugly phenomenon. This has not always been so. You fell in love with this woman once, but that woman is no longer there; now you don’t look at her at all.

Really, husbands and wives avoid looking at each other. I have stayed with many families and watched: husbands and wives avoid looking at each other. They have created many games to avoid; they are always uneasy when they are left alone. A guest is always welcome, because both can look at the guest and avoid each other.

This Joshu seems to be absolutely different, behaving in the same way with a stranger and a friend. The monk says, “I have always been here sir, you know me well.”

And Joshu says, “Then have a cup of tea.”

The manager couldn’t understand. Managers are always stupid; to manage, a stupid mind is needed. And a manager can never be deeply meditative. It is difficult: he has to be mathematical, calculating; he has to see the world and arrange things accordingly. The manager became disturbed: What is this? What is happening? This looks illogical. It’s okay to offer a cup of tea to a stranger but to this disciple who has always been here? So he asks, “Why do you respond in the same way to different persons, to different questions?”

Joshu calls loudly, “Manager, are you here?”

The manager said, “Yes sir, of course I am here.”

And Joshu says, “Then have a cup of tea.”

This asking loudly, “Manager, are you here?” is calling his presence, his awareness. Awareness is always new, it is always a stranger, the unknown. The body becomes familiar, not the soul - never. You may know the body of your wife; you will never know the unknown hidden person - never. That cannot be known. You can love: it is a mystery, you cannot explain it.

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