Much has been said about the value of silent tea practice. In personal practice it can be invaluable in tuning into the inner rhythm of the process. This is the tuning in of the receiver of the mind into the frequency of the Tea — of the natural order. Silence is encouraged in the beginning of traditional tea practice, as otherwise we are simply broadcasting our conscious — often cluttered — mind into the tea soup. This is seen as being essential for both the person preparing the tea as well as the guests. Once having received transmission of the song of the tea (the 茶韻), we are then free to sing along, chat, or do what we please. Once having learned the dance we are free to improvise in time with the tune.
There are also tea teas which are potent to the degree that they render us unwilling or even unable to speak. This is often referred to as ba-qi (霸氣). This can; however, be misleading as some of the most profound and highest teas are those that could easily be overlooked by the United-quiet mind, the busy pendant will be too busy talking or thinking and entirely miss their flight to the island of the immortals — Penglai.
Tea is by no means a silent affair, though comfortable silences are both afforded and encouraged. A good tea will challenge the mind. To those who’ve challenged the mind before, via meditation practice, physical disciplines, internal alchemy, intense study, this may be familiar territory. However, the passage from active consciousness to tea conciousness, requires a letting of the self and a surrendering to the oceanic experience — that of the subconscious or universal mind. It is ultimately still us in the driver’s seat, but the driver is now detached from the experience. There is no longer any need for swearing at traffic lights or flipping off people for going the speed limit. For in truth, where we’re going, there are no roads… (to borrow a phrase).
…To be continued…