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Into the River once more — or Tea bags in the River

Updated: Nov 30, 2023

Together we set off into the unknown. This is the attitude I take, or which takes hold, when doing tea. You can’t enter the same river twice, as Heraclitus says. The past may inform how we make tea, but can only lead us to the door — we have to knock, push or kick it open. The tea session, over rehearsed, can be stale and dry, with rules of decorum taking the place of living art. Tea sessions, like dance, like art, occupies the living space. The imitation or reproduction of what another or ourself has done before is little better than forgery or at best homage. This may be acceptable for the art of tea (茶藝)but can not be called a Tao (道). Such is the philosophy of tea imparted to me by my teacher. I parrot these words, but have gazed loving enough into that pool that I’ve seen my own reflection in it.

A proper tea session is often the result of practice, but is not rehearsed. It breaths fresh life. The type of tea experience which some of us overturn worlds to find, is to throw oneself into the river once more. Techniques for how to swim are best learned in water. The alternative is to sit at the banks of the river, passively holding up score cards for the feats of others. As is often said, the Dao is a path which we walk. It is a philosophy of action. Action from the center pivot of detachment. Keep walking.

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