Kindness Is Water, Religion Is Tea

Kindness is water, religion is tea. — Dalai Lama

My Yoga instructor repeated the Dalai Lama’s words today. To her, his words meant that we can’t live without water, but every now and then a glass or cup of tea is nice.

I went home to check the quote, and I was amazed at what I found. There are books written about the phrase “kindness is water.” Others talk about whether “spirituality is water, and kindness is tea.” Then there is a whole flurry of articles about women being like tea bags. I then went back to the original quote to ask myself what did I think.

Did his holiness mean water is essential, where tea is a luxury? Did he mean that religions come in many flavors, but they all require water? One author said that water is free flowing where religion is like ice. Water is at its best when its wild and crazy, where religion is at best a frozen moment in time mistaken for eternity.

Who know such few words would bring on so much thought? I asked myself what did I think? As a southern boy nothing refreshed me more than drinking out of a garden hose on a hot summer day, but my grandmother’s sweet iced tea was to die for.

What do you think?

About the author

Webb Hubbell is the former Associate Attorney General of The United States. His novels, When Men Betray, Ginger Snaps, A Game of Inches, The Eighteenth Green, and The East End are published by Beaufort Books and are available online or at your local bookstore. When Men Betray won one of the IndieFab awards for best novel in 2014. Ginger Snaps and The Eighteenth Green won the IPPY Awards Gold Medal for best suspense/thriller. His latest, “Light of Day” will be on the bookstands soon.


  1. I believe the meaning of this is that water is essential – you can’t live without it, but you have a lot of choice in tea (spirituality). Kindness (the water), is an essential part of being a human. We thrive when people are kind to us, it’s good for our minds and bodies – much like water. In spirituality, you have choice- just like you have choice in what type of tea you want (hot or iced, herbal or black/green, with lemon or with honey.) People often engage with spirituality in the same way – filled with choice and the comfort of it can help you thrive as well. Just my two cents!

  2. We grew up thinking of many foods and beverages “to die for”!
    In the world today as we age and our days on earth are shorter, I think it would be interesting to discuss what would we actually die for in this crazy world?
    To save another’s life?
    For climate change and save the planet for our grandchildren and beyond?
    Only two things that quickly popped in my mind but more will come as the day progresses.
    Thanks for stirring the pot!

  3. OK, this quote has stimulated your Sufi friend to come out of the shadows. To begin, Sufism is NOT a religion, but is more perhaps of a spiritual path To me, spirituality has God as its source, while religions are all spiritually sourced ideas defined into their respective dogmas by humans. One of the problems I have with religions is that each tends to be portrayed in the minds of their followers as the only true path to God. So, in the context of this wonderful quote, I would equate kindness as an aspect of spirituality and water as the key to human life from God, while tea can be seen as one of the expressions of water, just as religion is an expression of spirituality.

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