What's this whole teaism things about

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Auxilium
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Sat Jun 27, 2020 10:56 pm

So I've heard this word "teaism" thrown around all over the place, in classic books, in new books, online, all over really. To sum it up in very curious if anyone has any info on this subject and would like to share!
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Bok
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Sat Jun 27, 2020 11:47 pm

Auxilium wrote:
Sat Jun 27, 2020 10:56 pm
So I've heard this word "teaism" thrown around all over the place, in classic books, in new books, online, all over really. To sum it up in very curious if anyone has any info on this subject and would like to share!
In classic books? Which ones?

The only time I ever heard it is from the user name of a more well known tea person...

I doubt it is anything else than a made up artificial word.
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Balthazar
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Sun Jun 28, 2020 3:55 am

Yeah, I'm also curious to hear which classic books you are referring to. I noticed Okakura Kakuzō used the word (15 times) in "The Book of Tea", which was addressed to a Western audience and written in English. I think it's a bit strange to refer to a book that's barely a century old as a "Tea classic", but it's commonly done with this title. (I read it some years ago, and it's quite an interesting read-)

Some selected quotations:
Tea began as a medicine and grew into a beverage. In China, in the eighth century, it entered the realm of poetry as one of the polite amusements. The fifteenth century saw Japan ennoble it into a religion of aestheticism—Teaism. 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.

The Philosophy of Tea is not mere aestheticism in the ordinary acceptance of the term, for it expresses conjointly with ethics and religion our whole point of view about man and nature. It is hygiene, for it enforces cleanliness; it is economics, for it shows comfort in simplicity rather than in the complex and costly; it is moral geometry, inasmuch as it defines our sense of proportion to the universe. It represents the true spirit of Eastern democracy by making all its votaries aristocrats in taste.

The long isolation of Japan from the rest of the world, so conducive to introspection, has been highly favourable to the development of Teaism. Our home and habits, costume and cuisine, porcelain, lacquer, painting—our very literature—all have been subject to its influence. No student of Japanese culture could ever ignore its presence. It has permeated the elegance of noble boudoirs, and entered the abode of the humble. Our peasants have learned to arrange flowers, our meanest labourer to offer his salutation to the rocks and waters. In our common parlance we speak of the man "with no tea" in him, when he is insusceptible to the serio-comic interests of the personal drama. Again we stigmatise the untamed aesthete who, regardless of the mundane tragedy, runs riot in the springtide of emancipated emotions, as one "with too much tea" in him.
Charles Lamb, a professed devotee, sounded the true note of Teaism when he wrote that the greatest pleasure he knew was to do a good action by stealth, and to have it found out by accident. For Teaism is the art of concealing beauty that you may discover it, of suggesting what you dare not reveal. It is the noble secret of laughing at yourself, calmly yet thoroughly, and is thus humour itself,—the smile of philosophy. All genuine humourists may in this sense be called tea-philosophers, Thackeray, for instance, and of course, Shakespeare. The poets of the Decadence (when was not the world in decadence?), in their protests against materialism, have, to a certain extent, also opened the way to Teaism. Perhaps nowadays it is our demure contemplation of the Imperfect that the West and the East can meet in mutual consolation.
A special contribution of Zen to Eastern thought was its recognition of the mundane as of equal importance with the spiritual. It held that in the great relation of things there was no distinction of small and great, an atom possessing equal possibilities with the universe. The seeker for perfection must discover in his own life the reflection of the inner light. The organisation of the Zen monastery was very significant of this point of view. To every member, except the abbot, was assigned some special work in the caretaking of the monastery, and curiously enough, to the novices was committed the lighter duties, while to the most respected and advanced monks were given the more irksome and menial tasks. Such services formed a part of the Zen discipline and every least action must be done absolutely perfectly. Thus many a weighty discussion ensued while weeding the garden, paring a turnip, or serving tea. The whole ideal of Teaism is a result of this Zen conception of greatness in the smallest incidents of life. Taoism furnished the basis for aesthetic ideals, Zennism made them practical.
I think I've seen the word used as a (slightly odd imo) translation of 茶道 as well, although I can't recall where.
mbanu
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Sun Jun 28, 2020 12:39 pm

It is either a bad translation or a re-branding, depending on if you are a pessimist. :)

Teaism is 茶道, "The Tao of Tea", "The Way of Tea", "The Path of Tea", etc. It usually refers to a way of making tea that focuses on the ritualistic parts. The Tao of Tea is associated with 70s New Age mysticism in America, while Teaism sounds more like something you might read in a 19th century book.

As to the point, some people find a highly structured way of making tea to be soothing. This can be something like the Japanese Tea Ceremony, but even something like the ISO 3130 standard for preparing tea could be considered a sort of teaism, even though the claim is that it is formalized for scientific purposes rather than for ritualistic benefit. By making tea in a way where every step is predetermined like the lines of a play, it frees some people from anxiety.
Auxilium
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Sun Jun 28, 2020 7:31 pm

I was referring to the book of tea, I was referring to it as a classic because it seems to be respected and widely read within the tea community not necessarily its age. Although I wouldn't consider it a new book either (in the grand scheme of things yes but in my opinion its not necessarily young). Thank you for the quotations! Also thank you mbanu for the explanation!!
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