Is tea a spiritual activity for you?

Is tea a spiritual activity for you?

Yes
10
38%
No
16
62%
 
Total votes: 26
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Victoria
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Thu Nov 28, 2019 11:52 pm

Reflecting on the here and now, and the reflective pause a tea session can offer;
"Wherever I step I am stepping into a place that was just finished at the moment I arrived",
Fanny Howe, poet
treetime
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Fri Nov 29, 2019 2:49 am

Bok wrote:
Thu Nov 28, 2019 11:37 pm
treetime wrote:
Thu Nov 28, 2019 10:49 pm
....it attempts to break through the current cliches and debased concepts of tea to disclose a deeper stratum of meaning. To accomplish this it distinguished two kinds of chanoyu, worldly tea and Zen tea. Worldly tea is a microcosm of ordinary life, entangled in concern over the self and therefore beset by anxieties and desires. A perversion of authentic chanoyu, it is tea activity that has been dragged into the compass of mundane existence. True tea is Zen tea: true because it leads its practitioners to awakening, and because it itself is the emergence of true reality, in the Buddhist sense, in the lives and acts of tea people.
And... ? Do you agree with it?

I think the whole statement out of context is probably adding more confusion than anything. As it is, I find it questionable, but it might make sense embedded in the whole text. I always find it problematic when true and truth is mentioned, truth is a vague and elusive thing, depending on many factors and subjectivities.
I had no interest in tea, until I was introduced to it by my tea teacher as a practice of self-cultivation. So this has been my whole orientation to tea.

Because it has been so fulfilling to me in this way, it has been interesting to see that others may not have been introduced to that kind of potentiality with tea. Whether that's because of the culturally predominant worldview of scientific materialism, a skepticism around "woo-woo" spirituality, or other reasons, I'm not sure. But it's interesting to me that with the roots of tea in both China and Japan as being inseparable from a non-dual contemplative orientation, that the spiritual dimension of tea is left out of most tea connoisseur conversations about tea — at least in the online realm. If tea truly is a pathway as deep as Zen in terms of its potential for aligning oneself with one's deepest potential, what questions might we be asking of each other? What questions aren't we asking? What assumptions are we making? How might we relate to tea in ways that we might not even have imagined or realized?
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Bok
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Fri Nov 29, 2019 6:57 am

For me it’s simple: I don’t need any spiritual potential in my tea. Or at all.

I only care about its taste.

I would say per se tea has as much spiritual potential (whatever that is) as orange juice. I’m not taking the piss, if I’d wanted to go into these spheres I fail to see why tea should be more adequate than any other drink to achieve that. If anything, the humble water should be the summum of a spiritual liquid.
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debunix
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Fri Nov 29, 2019 12:27 pm

Replying to the original question: sometimes.

I enjoy tea so much that I have made it part of my daily routine, figured out which teas can be dropped into a water bottle, covered with hot water, filled up with cool water for a long-lasting cool tea on the go; and which are best for bulk brewing in a thermos, the better to have tea available for clinic when I have back to back to back sessions and only a minute or two in between to sip something; and which deserve my fullest attention at home for gongfu cha.

It is mostly those home sessions, often combined with a stroll in the garden, when I can really feel a sense of kinship with the plant that grew the leaf, the pluckers and the master preparers rolling, heating, drying, fermenting, and those who help me find it and get it to my door; and the wonders of earth and kiln and stone and fire that go into the ceramics I use to enjoy it, and the skill and vision of the artisans who create the pieces. There are moments when I marvel at the wonderful plant, the genius of those who figured out how to make drinks from it, and that I can still drink it, daily, thousands of miles from where it is most often grown, and I am very very grateful to this universe where tea exists.
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rdl
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Fri Nov 29, 2019 2:40 pm

From quenching a thirst to a deeply meditative tea sitting, if you begin focused on calling it spiritual, I imagine it won't achieve that level.
With awareness of thirst, of performing the orchestrated motions of a ceremony, of preparing, drinking tea, in that awareness will something greater happen. Awareness is a great equalizer, to the value of the practioner.
It's best not to find inherent spiritual qualities in tea, but the world of tea can be the spiritual path. As it's been mentioned, orange juice can be that path, and a myriad of other wonderful things life offers us. Spiritually is an arrived at state, not a material object. It is an end, not a beginning. And it certainly isn't within these words I just typed.
faj
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Fri Nov 29, 2019 10:01 pm

Bok wrote:
Fri Nov 29, 2019 6:57 am
For me it’s simple: I don’t need any spiritual potential in my tea. Or at all.
I only care about its taste.
My tea drinking has nothing to do with anything I would call "spriritual" either. However, I would not say the taste of tea is the only thing I pay attention to. As you say, tea is tea. At the same time, tea drinking involves a human tea drinker, and humans have physiological and psychological processes that are influenced by, and exert influence on, their thoughts, feelings and actions.

Habits (or at least the repetition of somewhat similar behavior patterns) have undeniable psychological impacts. As an example, habits may, for some people, create a sense of control and familiarity which helps drive out anxiety. I fully agree that this has nothing to do with tea : you could very well build a ritual around orange juice. And the exact nature of one's ritual is not important, only the fact that there is some form of repeated behavior. Therefore, I could very well understand a tea drinker paying attention to the ceremonial aspect of tea drinking without that being driven by spiritual motives, or a quest for any kind of "truth".

I do feel that tea has characteristics that make it well suited to preparation and consumption in contexts I would quality as "meditative" or "contemplative" (without giving any spiritual meaning to these words). Appreciating its delicate flavors calls for focus. And once tea becomes psychologically associated with a calm and focused state of mind, it may very well be that preparing tea becomes a good way to achieve this state of mind, in the same way "comfort food" may help some people get actual comfort even though food is nothing but food.

So I would say while there is no spiritual aspect to my tea drinking, I can see why tea drinking could be an anchor for personal experiences that some may consider as exhibiting spiritual elements.
Hmm
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Sat Nov 30, 2019 1:15 pm

In terms of Eastern philosophies, I suppose you can find making tea, etc. spiritual, as Chan Buddhist used to say that you could find enlightenment from even the most mundane tasks such as sweeping the floor everyday. Moreover, ritual could also be used to find the "way" in different philosophies such as Confucianism.

But in regards to Western concepts of spirituality, I'm not too sure about that.
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bentz98125
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Sat Nov 30, 2019 9:58 pm

Hmm wrote:
Sat Nov 30, 2019 1:15 pm
In terms of Eastern philosophies, I suppose you can find making tea, etc. spiritual, as Chan Buddhist used to say that you could find enlightenment from even the most mundane tasks such as sweeping the floor everyday. Moreover, ritual could also be used to find the "way" in different philosophies such as Confucianism.

But in regards to Western concepts of spirituality, I'm not too sure about that.
I love that the spirituality of tea discussion has followed a predictably unpredictable path. Human behavior may never fail to disappoint, but not so the creativity of imagination. Many common trappings of "spirituality" say, difficult to understand, mysteriousness, or exclusivity to an elite, don't appeal to me. I start the idea of "spirituality" from a baseline that most people for most of history are lucky to not be called criminal never mind "spiritual". Before accusing me of sanctimony go ahead and cure cureable disease, feed the hungry, exterminate racism and misogyny, stop global warming, and eliminate war. I'll wait. So here it is: "spiritual" is any human endeavor that can sustain pleasure for people without harming themselves, others, or life on the planet. Easy in theory, not so in practice. Human resource managers, sales personnel, code writers, attorneys, boards of directors, CEO's, defense contractors, slave traders, ethnic cleansers, soldiers, generals, presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens, religious authorities and especially just ordinary citizens with their heads in the sand (or glued to video screens) need not apply. But (some) scientists, teachers, health care workers, war zone peacemakers, musicians, painters, sculptors, day care workers, window washers, ditch diggers and yes, tea drinkers, you are welcome citizens in my United States of Spirituality!
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There is no self
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Sun Dec 01, 2019 12:14 pm

Bok wrote:
Fri Nov 29, 2019 6:57 am
I’m not taking the piss, if I’d wanted to go into these spheres I fail to see why tea should be more adequate than any other drink to achieve that.
I imagine being (very) mildly psychoactive gives tea an advantage in this regard. We treat stuff like caffeine and theanine (and whatever chemicals are responsible for "tea drunkeness") as mundane, but they must have made quite an impression back when people didn't know they even existed.
This is true not just for tea but for every plant that's ever been held in high esteem by humans: tasting good wasn't enough, it needed to have some perceivable effect on the mind and/or the body, even if that effect was just in the consumer's head (see for example aphrodisiacs). A lot of the current rhetoric surrounding certain[*] teas (anti-age properties, weight loss, TCM, Zen, Taoism, and what have you) may be just that, rhetoric, but it originated in something orange juice was clearly missing.

At least that's my take on it. I don't see anything spiritual in tea myself, but I can understand why some people might see it differently.









[*]Stress on certain. Nobody'll ever find the face of God on a Yorkshire tea heavy on cream and sugar.
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rdl
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Sun Dec 01, 2019 9:04 pm

Bentz98125,
You wrote:
"So here it is: "spiritual" is any human endeavor that can sustain pleasure for people without harming themselves, others, or life on the planet. Easy in theory, not so in practice."
That seems to be so earth bound that I don't see any spirit in your definition.
Oddly, the most mundane circumstances are part and parcel of some of life's most important features. We wait in line at the supermarket for food, stuck in waiting rooms for healthcare, remain in the quiet next to a child falling asleep. If those moments weren't created for spiritual practice, for transcending the corporal, I would very much like to know what purpose they serve. But they elevate, not condition.
My assumption with tea, like the control of so many medicinal plants in medieval times, found in monastery gardens, is that its place in Buddhist temples and its powerful effects, brought it into the realm of the spiritual practice of the monks.
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Bok
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Sun Dec 01, 2019 9:27 pm

rdl wrote:
Sun Dec 01, 2019 9:04 pm
If those moments weren't created for spiritual practice, for transcending the corporal, I would very much like to know what purpose they serve.
There you dip into an even deeper hole. Purpose. Who says that there has to be a purpose at all? These assumptions/questions and the myriads of attempts to answer them, are as old as humankind started to ponder them. Certainly too controversial and vast to discuss here.
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rdl
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Sun Dec 01, 2019 9:34 pm

Bok,
If I say there has to be a purpose, it's meaning is only extended to my thoughts, because we must be true to ourselves. I embrace any and all counter thinking, but the logic of "purpose gives meaning" is a powerful one.
I've even embraced trying to meditate on orange juice :lol:
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Bok
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Sun Dec 01, 2019 9:38 pm

rdl wrote:
Sun Dec 01, 2019 9:34 pm
I've even embraced trying to meditate on orange juice :lol:
:P
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Youzi
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Mon Dec 02, 2019 4:14 am

I don't find any difference between tea and wine, craft beer, whiskey etc.

"It's what it is" to quote from recent movie.
I appreciate it for the wide range of tastes that it can produce as a result of its making and processing from beginning to the end.

I drink it when I'm watching a movie, drink it when I want to relax, drink it with friends instead of alcohol, for group gatherings, etc.

It's a drink that can taste good, be sweet without any calories or major negative side effects on health.
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Baisao
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Tue Dec 03, 2019 10:36 am

“Dharma Gates are boundless, I vow to enter them.”

As a Zen Buddhist, I appreciate the role tea has played across hundreds of years of practice by countless monks and laymen. However, tea is tea, and tea is a Dharma Gate.

The sound of a bell, the scrape of my pencil, light on a dead kitten: everything is an opening into apprehending dharma. Tea suits this just fine.

Pragmatically, green tea is a wonderful addition to zazen as it keeps the mind alert yet relaxed. This is the foremost reason for it featuring prominently in Zen Buddhism. Yet, it’s a common thing and as such, is a frequent trigger for kensho or other profound observations.

To put tea in its place we have to look no further than Bodhidharma who replied when asked to explain the point of Buddhism, “vast emptiness, nothing sacred.”

Yes, tea is just tea. And yet, it is also part of a religious practice.
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