Practice

  • Being silent together as we drink delicate Chinese tea from the mountains
  • Learning to live in the present with mindfulness, letting go of mental stress
  • Sharing reflections about Zen teachings and our practice in everyday life

“Beautiful”, “Serene”, “Joyful” are some of the words participants used when describing our simple Tea Meditation.

“The SIMPLICITY of the tea table: linens, cups, utensils, vase.
The SERENITY of the tea-drinking: to savor, smell, and sip the tea slowly.
The SOCIALITY of the practice: an experience both separate and together, singular but enriched by performing it with others.” ~ J. Reinelt

“The flavor of hot tea sometimes sweet, sometimes savory awakens my awareness of my body more and more…not in a grasping way to identify the body as if exclusively me or mine…but simply to experience being alive in the moment while in this body.” ~ N. Rafi

“I find drinking tea mindfully to be a useful part of my Zen practice. I came to the group meditation with tea for the first time mainly out of curiosity. I didn’t know quite what to expect—my formal meditation periods are sitting facing a wall.

My previous experiences of tea drinking mostly came in the form of a large mug of Earl Grey to jump-start the morning, or as a backdrop to visits with friends.

The silent tea meditation was of course a very different experience. Coming into a quiet space, seeing the beautifully-prepared table with the tea pot, the lovely little cups, and all the accessories for brewing tea and offering it is a feast for the eyes. I experience it as a warm invitation to set aside other things and to simply be present, as mindfully as possible.

The forms of the tea preparation, the offering and the receiving, are simple yet profound. Now the tea as a focused object of meditation is a helpful addition to my practice tool kit. It’s another way of practicing being “in the mind of meditation, ” and then trying to bring that awareness into all the activities of daily life.” ~ D. Holt

“I grew up disliking all tea due to caffeine intolerance. The Chinese white tea changed my perception. The first time I tried it, I sipped into its earthy fruity flavour, my barriers towards tea were gone forever. Also, as an avid meditation practitioner, through tea, I discovered a whole new world of ways to meditate. Setting up the mat of a small island for tea drinking is a meditation; putting tea utensils into its place is a meditation; making and serving tea is a meditation; drinking and sharing tea is a meditation; holding each piece of the utensils to clean them and dry them is a meditation. This has become a part of my practice.” ~ W. Zhang

“Since ancient times, Zen and tea have blended together. From the earliest monks who lived in the mountain forest and planted and picked tea, to the Tea Bible written by Lu Yu (Lo Yu), the tea sage, and the Zen story of Drink Tea by a Zen master in Zhaozhou(Chao Chou), tea and Zen have never been separated. Monks practicing in the meditation hall would drink tea between sitting periods. The offering of Five Petals Tea from Mount Taimu reminds us of the spirit of Zen patriarchs and ancestors who transmitted the wisdom and compassion of the Buddha in five schools of Chan(Zen) in China, and we wish the fragrance of the Dharma to continue to flow throughout the world.” ~ W. Aman

The Song of Seven Cups of Tea

— by Lu T’ung, Poet of Tang Dynasty (China)

The first cup moistens my lips and throat.
The second cup breaks my loneliness.
The third cup searches my barren entrails
but to find therein
some five thousand volumes of odd ideographs.
The fourth cup raises a light perspiration,
and all the wrongs of life
pass away through my pores.
At the fifth cup I am purified.
The sixth cup calls me to the realms of immortals.
The seventh cup, ah, but I could take no more!
I only feel the breath of cool wind that rises in my sleeves
(as if taking me to heaven.)

~ from The Book of Tea ~

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