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Mountains, Clouds, Tea

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An Ode to Zen, Tea, Tao, and other things…


The Phoenix rising not from from flame, but from the oceanic sky. To see life bursting forth from fire, from ash, rocks, trees, clouds, all things. To see the world smiling back from you, and at last be in on the joke — for ever and for the first time. This was, in essence the viewpoint of the Taoist. though Taoism was arguably at its peak about a thousand years ago, it never really goes away. Culturally it may appear to ebbb and flow, but this just means that cultures — at times — take themselves too seriously. Many Taoists traditionally chose to leave life in the cities and wander the mountains, pursuing the way of the wind. This passage, this process, can just as easily be wandered within. Without bothering to ramble on as to whether there is any separation between the two, wander we must — be it in darkness or illumination. Tao need not be referred to by any particular name, the only point of affiliation is that you be switched on. Achieved in all manner of ways, it is Nature, or more importantly the act of naturalness which best inspires our purpose. Neither seeking to control nor be controlled. Traditionally, Zen has been pursued through various disciplines such as archery and flower arranging, poetry and painting, with the goal being to achieve the essence of the poetic, or the dance, within our selves. Tea is often fuel poured upon the flames of this process of achieving the great ultimate — using the term from Taichi (the definition of Taichi). In the post Alan Watts age the Western reductionist, fully automatic model of the Universe stands on increasingly crumbling ground — even to square types. We are increasingly inviting ourselves to embrace the infinite and discover the inter connectedness of all things, regardless of what histories tell us.


The path of the Taoist is, at once, solitary and united with all things. It is a path which listens to the heart-song which guides us to our distinct outcomes. Be it by leaves of grass or leaves of tea, Nature beckons us to her embrace. For many, over countless centuries, Tea has offered passage to a wider world of experience. A world which is both large and small, self-contradicting and yet not, like all things Tea and Tao, an enigma.


Cloudwalker — E.S

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The clock still moves, though we fidget less as we relax into our seat. Hours can pass like minutes, or minutes like hours, depending on the company we keep with the tea. Our teaware matters, and matters not. Our surroundings matter , and yet matter not. Great tea sessions can happen anywhere — or nowhere, if the mind is furtive and restless. Good tea can guide us in this process of settling down — of setting down of all but that which is most essential. It can, that is, if we let it. What then is good tea? It can be seen in the bright, moon-like faces of host and guest. It can tap you on the shoulder from across a crowded room. Good tea sits in stillness; it moves with aplomb. Good tea cares not for status, name or fame. It looks only ever back at us from that mirror of the infinite self.


E.S

Cloudwalker

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The power of the practice of tea is within your grasp...


Listen to the silent speech of your tea.


To be an expert or to practice what is called Tea Art (茶 藝) may require some training, research or study. That being said, to fully appreciate -- in the manner which approaches a Dao -- requires none of these. (Personally I've had tea made by children which surpasses some of the well known pundits of tea).
Listen to the silent speech of your tea

No matter how modest the leaf, so long as it's pure and unadulterated it will speak to you -- sometimes quietly, other times boldly, direct to the heart. To overthink, over-intellectualize the process is something akin to’ too many cooks in the kitchen -- it spoils the soup’.


To be an expert or to practice what is called Tea Art (茶 藝) may require some training, research or study. That being said, to fully appreciate -- in the manner which approaches a Dao -- requires none of these. (Personally I've had tea made by children which surpasses some of the well known pundits of tea).


My teacher of Tea eschews the academic approach to the process as it will be difficult to dismantle those scaffolds once erected. There are many stories I could use to corroborate this statement, however it simply pulls us further from our purpose.


The path to proficiency in Tea Tao (Cha-Dao) is relatively simple. It can be summed up as follows: first gain exposure to what quality tea is, then drink it with attention, reverence and free of distraction (preferably in silence at first). Listen to the silent language -- the song -- of the tea itself. Allow the tea to be your teacher -- for the teacher within surpasses what is communicable in any (other) language.


Such is the Cha-Dao, the Way of Tea, communicated -- transmitted -- since ancient times. It has been passed down steep by steep, cup by cup, from antiquity to the present moment. And, once affected, the remembrance of such experience will last a lifetime -- and beyond.


Erick Smithe - Cloudwalker

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