Saturday, July 3, 2010

Hiding In A Cup Of Tea

"There are four inherent at­tributes of tea: peacefulness, respectfulness, purity and quietness. In drinking tea these qualities should be cultivated in the drinker.

"Tea is said to be a ‘Way’ (Tao). This is because it is something you learn to appreciate through feeling, not through putting it into words. If a person is in a state of quietness, only then will he appreci­ate the quietness inherent in the tea. If he is excited, he will never recognize the tea’s quietness. For this reason it is said that tea and meditation are of one taste. If one’s meditation is not single-pointed, one will fail to appreciate the true qualities of tea. A Way is present when there is no-mind. This no-mind is our fundamental nature. The sun shines and it is warm; this is a Way. If you are hungry, you eat; this is a Way. When you are tired, you sleep; this is a Way. The nature of water to run from high to low is also a Way. Nan-ch’uan said that the Way is a constantly equanimous mind. However, when his dis­ciple Chao Chou was once asked about the Way, he said it was the road that ran by the house! Lao Tzu maintained that the Way you speak of is not the true Way.

"In China the Way is under­stood as equivalent to the Dharma and the truth. Chinese Christians even identify it with God. Nevertheless, it is also understood in the conventional sense of a road or a path, i.e. something which connects two separate points in time and space. These two concepts of the Way only appear to be different to a dualistic, dis­criminating mind. In reality they are intimately related since movement and stasis are essentially one. This is what is meant by the statement in the Avatamsaka Sutra, ‘All is equal to one and one is equal to all,’ and the Heart Sutra’s maxim, ‘Form is emptiness and emptiness is form.’ In reality, waves are the ocean and defilements are enlightenment.

"Q: So is the ultimate purpose of drinking tea to realise the Way?

"A: No. You drink tea because you need to quench your thirst, not to discover some ‘Way’ hidden somewhere in the tea."

Excerpt from The Way of Tea, by Popchong Sunim
A post on the Buddhism Now blog

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