This blog post is the first in a series documenting my journey living the lessons contained within Wu De's excellent book Tea Medicine. I will do my best to embody the imparted wisdom and homework assigned within each chapter, allotting around two weeks at a time for doing the work. This will afford me ample space for contemplation, reflection and application, seeing what comes up and documenting the result here.
Some members of the Global Tea Hut community have wondered how to put the lessons of Tea Medicine into practice amongst all the activity of their daily lives. As someone who tries to walk the path of Cha Dao on a daily basis amidst raising three kids and keeping a household afloat with my wife, I hope I can provide the perspective of a busy person in the world who still can find time for tea and meditation just about every day.
Although Tea Medicine establishes a convention of capitalizing the word "tea" throughout, I will only capitalize Tea when referring to Tea as it pertains to Dao and otherwise use tea as it pertains to the beverage.
The Introduction to Tea Medicine has us reflecting on the most fundamental ground of our place in the grand scheme of things on planet Earth through "the bowl of Tea before us", this Life as it pertains to this moment, this very bowl of Tea. It is in this first introductory bowl that we receive an invitation to a new awareness (whether we've established ourselves as beings-in-the-world like this before or not, we are all invited to reflect on our place in it now), that we can start to realize that our brief time here alive on the planet is fundamentally integrated into a world that has existed well before we ever came on the scene. It is upon the backdrop of this vast stretch of time that our seemingly insignificant life of Tea begins, where we can begin to realize our purpose here.
When we commune respectfully and openly with Tea, we are often parsing a non-linguistic dialog between ourselves and Nature. Sometimes what we get out of the communion is intelligible in a human sense, involving thoughts and information that can be shared with others or used tangibly within one's daily action. Yet other times what we learn as we receive lessons from Tea is information pertaining to Being. It is slower, deeper, sometimes difficult, both to experience and to communicate. Somehow truths get revealed regarding how things actually work here, paradigms no different for a man than they are for a tree. Somehow in Nature, we are all in this together, and as beings, we are all Being together. The steam billowing from the tea bowl shows us by way of our simple and miraculous interaction with it, if we can pay attention. It is in this participation that Tea is Medicine.
Over the past three years, I have had the great privilege of attending Wu De's tea workshops, reading his books and best of all, receiving Global Tea Hut in my mailbox, reading every issue cover to cover. I have also taken it upon myself to read nearly all the back issues and Wu De's other publications freely available on the Web. It is true that due to these influences, I am more inclined to view Tea from a similar spiritual perspective. But I remember that when I first realized that Tea was in tea, in my very first workshop, the communion between myself and Nature was obvious after the third bowl of Sun Moon Lake red tea I consumed in silence, before Wu De ever connected any dots for me. I very quickly developed a realization that I had never really known Tea (or even tea) until that third bowl. It is this very bowl that is the Introduction to Tea Medicine. May everyone experience this Great Bowl and use it as the powerful healing tool of Being that it truly is.