Zen Teachings

An Expression of Chan

Probably all of you are familiar with the Zen koan, “Have a cup of tea” by Chan (Zen) Master Chao Chou.

Using tea, the Chan Master called practitioners back to the present moment from the confusion of discriminative and deluded thinking, to live in the here and now within the absolute ease of the original mind. In so doing, Pure Land would be right under our feet, the Buddha would be walking right with us, and everyday life would be just the ground of Liberation. This is the truth of “Chan and tea are one” — it is the spirit and Way of tea. It is the most cherished and resplendent treasure to the world offered by the wisdom of the Orient.

The koan, “Have a cup of tea” tells us, our life and the Way of tea are not two. Tea drinking has become an expression of Chan. Tea is part of our everyday life, which means we are not apart from Chan. Through the simple and ordinary act of drinking tea, everyone can experience and realize the selflessness, serenity, and harmony of Chan.

From this perspective, a cup of tea is thus relevant to the subject of World Peace of our time. Through mindful tea drinking, more and more people can experience and extend the spirit of Chan. If each of us can realize the serenity and ease in a single tea leaf, and become a leaf of tea, dissolving the self into water, and offering the tea to all people around, then our society will undoubtedly become very beautiful.

[原创]Selected translation by zenteaone.org from the Acceptance Speech at an “Award for Tea Culture” in Korea by Venerable Chan Master Jing Hui on October 19th, 2004.