Obtaining Complete Spiritual Contentment

From Oriental Secrets of Graceful Living (1966), by Boye De Mente:

Up until Rikyu’s time, the Tea-Men taught a high standard of refinement and graceful living. But it was a style of life demanding luxury and leisure. It was not only beyond the reach of the poor but did not contain many of the other elements essential for a true religion. Rikyu added these elements. They were: a unified view of man and nature, and complete spiritual contentment obtained by harmoniously blending everyday life with reality. Those who followed the Way of Tea were promised a long life unmarred by ill health and worries, and when their time came they would be able to accept death calmly and contentedly. As an exercise in aesthetics, the tea ceremony is all inclusive. It teaches the way to perfect understanding of beauty, and once the Teaist reaches this goal, provides a means for him to exercise his new-found understanding on the highest level. Philosophically, the Way of Tea teaches man to recognize and accept his relation with nature, to have respect for all nature including his fellow human beings, to be pure of mind and to behave quietly.

Quote of the Day

From Japan Style by Gian Carlo Calza (2007):

Foremost among the concepts that Asia has passed to the West are those connected with the world of tea–a short word with a vast and complex range of associations. Even though it is part of everyday life, with the attendant dangers of its consumption becoming automatic and taken for granted, it retains an aura of mystery and inscrutability. The introduction of the tea-bag has, of course, made drinking tea a somewhat sterile experience, interposing a barrier that obscures its reality and prevents the full enjoyment of its essence and all its hidden qualities. Yet, even in a crowded, busy bar, tea is not experienced in the same way as an espresso or any other beverage. Even those whose approach to it could not be more down to earth have a reflective air. Of all drinks it is tea that, even in the West, immediately evokes thoughts of private, exclusive and sometimes ritualized consumption. It is as if it has the intrinsic, natural characteristic of inducing a state of its own, creating a break in the routine in which we are submerged, causing us to distance ourselves from our actions and allowing us to contemplate them from a more rarefied dimension where we can grasp the general significance of an act and its true place in our life. We do not feel the same way about coffee, which comes from sunnier, tropical climes and whose purpose seems to be to whip up our psychic energy and stimulate us to engage even more feverishly in what we are doing.

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From The Importance of Living, by Lin Yutang (1937):

Thus chastened in spirit, quiet in mind and surrounded by proper company, one is fit to enjoy tea. For tea is invented for quiet company as wine is invented for a noisy party. There is something in the nature of tea that leads us into a world of quiet contemplation of life. It would be as disastrous to drink tea with babies crying around, or with loud-voiced women or politics-talking men, as to pick tea on a rainy or a cloudy day. Picked at early dawn on a clear day, when the morning air on mountain top was clear and thin, and the fragrance of dews was still upon the leaves, tea is still associated with the fragrance and refinement of the magic dew in its enjoyment. With the Taoist insistence upon return to nature, and with its conception that the universe is kept alive by the interplay of the male and female forces, the dew actually stands for the “juice of heaven and earth” when the two principles are united at night, and the idea is current that the dew is a magic food, fine and clear and ethereal, and any man or beast who drinks enough of it stands a good chance of being immortal. De Quincey says quite correctly that tea “will always be the favorite beverage of the intellectual,” but the Chinese seem to go further and associate it with the highminded recluse.