From Daruma’s Eyelids

One story tells of how tea came from the eyes of Bodhidharma, the first patriarch of Zen (whom the Japanese call Daruma). The tale has him sailing from India to China, and upon his arrival he sat facing the wall at Shaolin Temple unmoving for nine years. At one point during is meditation, he fell asleep momentarily. He quickly cut off his eyelids so that his eyes would never again close and detract him from his meditation. Where his eyelids landed on the ground, Quan Yin, the deity, made tea plants sprout to aid him, and all followers of Zen, on his path to enlightenment.

Coincidentally, the Japanese characters for tea leaf and eyelid are the same, which some claim gave rise to this particular legend.

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