Tea and Enlightenment

chinese tea cultureIn the East, tea has long been viewed as medium to help achieve enlightenment. Rumor has it that the first tea plants grew from the eyelids of a Buddhist monk who grew sleepy while meditating. The monk was so ashamed that he removed his eye lids and threw them to the ground so it would never happen again.

I personally wish to better understand Chinese tea culture, and come to appreciate it as fully as I can; this involves understanding “Cha Dao” the way of tea. In my experience tea can take you to a peaceful state, from the pensive and meditative practice of making it, to the thoughtful consumption which is occasionally best enjoyed with an empty mind.

One of my favorite things to do is memorize a Haiku, ponder a Koan, or a poem while having a session of tea. Try it next time you are enjoying tea, try and ponder the meaning of this poem.

The Gateless Gate:
“The great path has no gates,
Thousands of roads enter it.
When one passes through this gateless gate
He walks freely between heaven and earth.”
–Mumon

In the west, tea is still used as an enlightenment of sorts, an English tea time to enjoy with company and discuss. Tea has many uses which can be tea meditationconsidered an enlightenment of sorts. It is used to comfort you when you are down, warm you up when you are cold, and heal you when you are sick. Tea can also be inspirational; there have been so many photographs, paintings, or sculptures, done with tea in mind.

So next time you are down, or feeling confused, reach for a cup of tea, and ponder your situation. It might be the time you spent thinking about it, or it might have been the influence of the tea, but surely you will feel somewhat more certain of the problem, and possibly have a few solutions after a nice round of tea.

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