Or "What I Learned Serving Tea To Sifu"
If you spend much time learning Chinese martial arts (kung fu), you're sure to be exposed to Chinese culture as a matter of course. (I've written some about this before here.)
One of the most time honored traditions of Chinese martial arts is serving tea to your Sifu and to your seniors in the art. The practice varies widely from school to school, and in China, from village to village.
Since I recently spent so much time at Sifu's house, naturally I spent a lot of time serving tea! Over the years I experienced a lot of stress trying to make sure Sifu's cup was never empty.
Initially I viewed the practice as one of a) Confucian fealty and b) an exercise in awareness. (Can I keep my attention on Sifu's cup strong enough to notice when it's getting low.)
However, after my most recent trip to Sifu's house I had, what I think, is a revelation;
Serving the tea as a sign of respect for Sifu is only a very superficial level of understanding. Rather than try to watch Sifu's cup like a hawk, I started to think "if I'm thirsty, maybe Sifu is too.."
"More tea Sifu?"
I think when you look at things this way, you start to see "the other" in yourself more. I'm starting to see the needs of others in my needs, and trying to use that as an opportunity to be of service to others.
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