Is tea a spiritual activity for you?

Is tea a spiritual activity for you?

Yes
15
42%
No
21
58%
 
Total votes: 36
treetime
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Sun Nov 24, 2019 2:47 pm

“Teaism is a cult founded on the adoration of the beautiful among the sordid facts of everyday existence. It inculcates purity and harmony, the mystery of mutual charity, the romanticism of the social order. It is essentially a worship of the Imperfect, as it is a tender attempt to accomplish something possible in this impossible thing we know as life.” ―Kakuzo Okakura, The Book of Tea

However you understand a spiritual activity — is tea, when you have time to give it attention, a spiritual activity for you?
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Bok
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Sun Nov 24, 2019 6:36 pm

Tea is just tea. What we make of it doesn’t change that.
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Victoria
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Sun Nov 24, 2019 6:47 pm

That is a wonderful quote. Thank you for sharing it. I enjoy the calming focus tea sessions provide, as well as multi-sensory awareness, and aesthetic engagement. I will say yes, it is a spiritual moment for me, elevating my awareness in the here and now, as I contemplate a humble simple reflective moment.
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Elise
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Wed Nov 27, 2019 1:54 pm

The above quote is very inspiring indeed, but one must note that it was written about Japanese Way of Tea as first intention. I don’t know how much it can be used for other ways of tea. Anyway, tea in China has also been a typical activity for Chinese intellectual and art-cultivated class. I don’t know if it makes of it the same kind of « spiritual » activity in China than chanoyu in Japan.
treetime
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Wed Nov 27, 2019 2:06 pm

Bok wrote:
Sun Nov 24, 2019 6:36 pm
Tea is just tea. What we make of it doesn’t change that.
"Tea is just tea," sounds rather Zen, Bok. ;)

"What we make of it doesn’t change that." But I wonder if what we make of it changes everything? From the intention of the tea farmer to the intention I have when making tea, for me all of these influence the perception and experience of a moment of drinking tea. I think this takes the perception of tea from the realm of the objective into the intersubjective.
treetime
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Wed Nov 27, 2019 2:10 pm

Victoria wrote:
Sun Nov 24, 2019 6:47 pm
That is a wonderful quote. Thank you for sharing it. I enjoy the calming focus tea sessions provide, as well as multi-sensory awareness, and aesthetic engagement. I will say yes, it is a spiritual moment for me, elevating my awareness in the here and now, as I contemplate a humble simple reflective moment.
I tried to leave this idea of spiritual activity as open-ended, and your description, Victoria, does indeed speak to my wonderings. This awareness of the here and now with reflection is where I find much nourishment when taking time with tea.
treetime
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Wed Nov 27, 2019 2:15 pm

Elise wrote:
Wed Nov 27, 2019 1:54 pm
The above quote is very inspiring indeed, but one must note that it was written about Japanese Way of Tea as first intention. I don’t know how much it can be used for other ways of tea. Anyway, tea in China has also been a typical activity for Chinese intellectual and art-cultivated class. I don’t know if it makes of it the same kind of « spiritual » activity in China than chanoyu in Japan.
You make a good point about this quote coming from Japanese tea tradition.

And when you speak of other ways of tea I think it's good to recognize that tea can function in many ways, such as casual and social. For me the spiritual way of tea is the most interesting so I was interested to have a little discussion about that.

I'm sure there are lots of good quotes from prior centuries in China about spirituality and tea — and that perspective is touched on in this article:

https://www.umiteasets.com/blog/taoism- ... emony.html

But I will share a Japanese one from it that I thought was particularly lovely:
The well-known Japanese painter, tea scholar Dongshan Kuifu said, “The spring water of heart cultivates me, only to give up the ego that you could see the truth.”
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Bok
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Wed Nov 27, 2019 6:45 pm

In continuation, although I mentioned it in other places, my favourite tea related saying: “I do not care the least about immortality, only about the taste of the tea” attributed to Lu Tong.
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bentz98125
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Wed Nov 27, 2019 10:59 pm

Hate to over analize an interesting question but defining the word "spiritual" is as slippery as the imagination is infinite. Tea preparation inevitably contains ritualistic elements but ritual without theology or philosophy, usually doesn't qualify as "spiritual". Coffee barista routines have ritual too, but aside from the company's board of directors and lots of economists, few would say Starbucks coffee culture is "spiritual". So is an individual's subjective experience of enjoyment all you need to be "spiritual"? Sure! But for people writ large, we should ask how much prestige and importance does a given society offer the the cultivation, prepartion, and enjoyment of tea? The history of tea in most asian cultures make denying it "spiritual" status mean spirited if not outright bigotted and ignorant. In western countries however there is the little matter of human misery involved with tea commerce. Perhaps further study of asian history would reveal to me that elites in asian cultures in fact manipulated tea to inflict misery on their victims as well, but until then, asian tea cultures are innocent until proven guilty and wear the tea "spirituality" crown while western tea cultures are guilty as charged and sentenced to a tea walk of shame.
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Bok
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Wed Nov 27, 2019 11:12 pm

Interesting thoughts.
bentz98125 wrote:
Wed Nov 27, 2019 10:59 pm
but until then, asian tea cultures are innocent until proven guilty and wear the tea "spirituality" crown while western tea cultures are guilty as charged and sentenced to a tea walk of shame.
Yet I would argue that making the act of preparing a spiritual activity in Asia as simplifying as well. Which is a typical Western cliche: To call the seemingly mysterious and elaborate process of making tea a ceremony (I have to roll my eyes every time my mother asks me to do my tea ceremony thing... grrr), attaching it more meaning than the maker usually intends it to have.

For the vast majority in the South of China or Taiwan for example, making tea the gong fu way is just a method to prepare this beverage, nothing else. Like an Italian will use an espresso maker.
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OCTO
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Thu Nov 28, 2019 1:34 am

Now, let's not steep simplicity out of Tea on this one. Tea is just a beverage, often enjoyed with a recreational mood. Rightfully placed, it's a means to an end. Be it for meditation, relaxation or socialization with friends... 😁😁😁

Cheers!
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bentz98125
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Thu Nov 28, 2019 7:53 pm

I'm all for simplicity. In fact if I'm not mistaken there is at least one eastern philosophy that elevates it into a sublime, meditative, spiritual practice. Not that Japan is all of asia, but it is they themselves who refer to the preparation of matcha as a ceremony. And on the subject of mainland China, has the cultural context of tea there changed much from imperial to communist to contemporary, times? I'd be surprised if it hadn't. And is there not a range of tea drinking comparable to the difference between drinking a bottle of ordinary table wine and savoring a 30 year old gormet bottle? Also, a Colombian friend of mine would love to hear Italian espresso called ordinary because he thinks the only excuse for an espresso machine is if low grade coffee is all you have to work with!
Last edited by bentz98125 on Thu Nov 28, 2019 8:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Bok
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Thu Nov 28, 2019 8:20 pm

In terms of China it is probably safe to say that tea in the ancient times has been a luxury item, only consumed by the wealthy and powerful. That tea is such an accessible commodity (although not in its better and premium form), is probably a more recent development.

Mundane and daily consumption, probably did only happen near the growing areas. Tea (and wine and beer) has also often been used as a substitute for water, when clean water was a concern.

It only becomes a ceremony if one decides to make it one. The steps taken may all be necessary by themselves, but the importance and demeanour attached to them is not. I can make matcha without bowing to people and turning cups and bowls to face or not face a certain direction, the tea doesn’t care…

– although, if I turn Daoist and play Chuangtze, I might ask “how do you know the tea doesn’t care? You are not tea.”
treetime
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Thu Nov 28, 2019 10:49 pm

To offer a perspective from Dennis Hirota's commentary on Jakuan Sotaku's The Zen Tea Record:
....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.
Last edited by treetime on Fri Nov 29, 2019 2:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Bok
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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.
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