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Tea, Zen, and other Inside Jokes

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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