The Principle of Being a Real Tea Master - Part 2

March 18, 2021

The Principle of Being a Real Tea Master - Part 2

Part 2 - Reconstructing Patience

The most significant difference between the traditional way of making tea and the modern way of making tea is that tea in the modern tea ceremony is treated like a simple consumer product. In contrast, tea in the traditional tea ceremony is treated as a sacred object that absorbs nature’s essence and brings spiritual energy to the human body. A consumer product and a sacred object are entirely different in nature.

I get asked the same questions all the time, such as: Is there an easy way to do the Chinese tea ceremony? Is there a procedural method to follow to make tea? How many minutes do you need to brew each tea? How do you quickly make the tea that dozens of people need to drink at once? I don't have time to make Kung Fu tea at work, what should I do? And so on. Sum it up, and you'll see that the common denominator in all of these questions is about how we can easily and quickly make tea to meet the demands of our programmed, fast-moving lives. Honestly, whenever someone asks me questions like these, I simply want to tell them not to choose tea. Choose a bottle of Coca-Cola; it's more appropriate, or to continue drinking tea bags.

But it's also not their fault. It's typical questions that naturally arise when people find the need to balance themselves in a fast-moving but unhealthy social ideology. So, when these questions arise, it's actually a warning that there has been a major deviation and that there is an imbalance in our lives. Sadly, many people can no longer identify the root of the problems in their lives and just want to make slight adjustments to the wrong living. But the consequences of doing so only make their lives worse and worse.

Patience is a combination of two characters in Chinese. '耐(Nai)' means control, and '心(xin)' meaning heart was considered to be the center of action and consciousness, equal to mind. So, patience in Chinese means to control arrogance and improper desire. Throughout the history of tea, in addition to having been used for medicinal purposes, another more critical application was the cultivation of the spirit. One of the cores of the cultivation of the spirit is to remove messy thoughts and to control improper desire, to achieve peace of mind in the world.

The essence of patience is for our minds to achieve peace of mind and no anxiety so that when we deal with things, we can control our interactions without arrogance or excessive desire. If we can cultivate such a state of mind, we can respect each other's customs and habits, not envy each other's status, and live a simple and natural life. Patience in the tea ceremony practice is not an empty word; it is the act of slowing down and focusing on making tea in a peaceful state of mind, which leads us to understand how to achieve complete tranquility in our spirits. Patience is a necessary process that needs to be practiced slowly, especially when you working with tea.

When we can slow down and be patient while focusing on the process of making tea instead of the result, our distractions will gradually be eliminated. When distractions are eliminated, inappropriate hobbies cannot disturb the senses, and lewd acts cannot tempt or confuse the mind.

Norbert Wiener (1894-1964) was a famous American scientist, professor of mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and one of the founders of the famous theory of control. He authored the book The Human Use Of Human Beings: Cybernetics And Society, which gives a popular account of the new comprehensive discipline of cybernetics. We can clearly see that our human society today, from science and technology to the national economy, culture, and spirituality, is filled with the great influence of cybernetics. He writes: “Properly speaking, the artist, the writer, and the scientist should be moved by such an irresistible impulse to create, that even if they were not being paid for their work, they would be willing to pay to get the chance to do it. However, we are in a period in which forms have largely superseded educational content and one which is moving toward an ever-increasing thinness of educational content. It is now considered perhaps more a matter of social prestige to obtain a higher degree and follow what may be regarded as a cultural career, than a matter of any deep impulse…Whether in the arts or in the sciences, which should properly be governed by a great desire on the part of the students to create something and to communicate it to the world at large, are now subject instead to the formal requirements of finding PH.D. theses or similar apprentice media.”

The book was completed in the 1950s, but until now, every aspect of our society is still stuck under a social ideology that focuses only on form and utilitarianism. Not much has changed, and these phenomena have become entrenched in each of our being hoods. In terms of life, work, entertainment, money, social relationships, personal development, personal emotions, etc., many people are moving toward the development of more instant gratification. People feel that they do not have the patience to slow down to admire a wildflower by the roadside, much less the patience to listen to the voices of their neighbors, so, of course, they do not have the patience to make a cup of traditional Chinese tea ceremony-style Kung Fu tea. Everybody is too busy working, earning money, and gaining fame. It is the lack of patience to slow down to focus on peace, quiet, and slowness that our minds and spirits need.

The consequence of this loss of patience is that we can no longer return to focusing on the inner self. Instead, we pursue external things with all our might, constantly plundering and interfering. In the end, however, it is not the external things that suffer greatly; it is our inner states. I think that this social orientation is leading to a catastrophe of spiritual power in humankind. The idea of getting rich quickly is established in adolescence and even at a younger age, which leads many people to no longer have the capacity to bear the burden of a long, slow, and arduous way of achieving individual spiritual values. Nor do people experience a sense of self-fulfillment and the importance of building resilience after solid and slow hard work to achieve something of value. On the contrary, many people are now more interested in getting everything they want in a short, quick, and stress-free way. This speculative approach makes us increasingly weak and unable to withstand any major shocks, and many of us will collapse in an instant if a black swan event occurs in our lives. When we lose patience, it means that we have lost everything.

Your ability to have patience and brew tea slowly determines whether or not you realize the true meaning of water, the preciousness of the plant nature has gifted us, and the preciousness of spending time with yourself or someone close to you. If you lose patience, water becomes just a substance that flows out of a pipe, tea is just a consumer commodity, and you'd rather gulp down a bagged tea and look at your computer than share a cup of tea with someone close to you. This is what Norber Wiener warns us about in his book The Usefulness of Human Beings. If we give up our patience with life, if we develop according to the mechanized and utilitarian social ideology, human existence will only become a useful tool for the development of society, and we will become an object that can be replaced and controlled, and thus we will not be free. This is why machines will be able to replace most people in the future.

In the traditional Chinese tea ceremony, there are six keys to a good cup of tea:

  • One is to identify the type of tea.
  • Two is to choose the right water.
  • Three is to master the fire.
  • Four is to master the boil.
  • Five is to choose the right equipment.
  • Six is to drink carefully.

If we lose patience and completely give up this seemingly complicated way of making tea and just choose a convenient and fast machine to make tea, we will eventually lose our inner peace and tranquility. We will no longer be able to absorb the spiritual energy from the plants of heaven and earth, and we will fall into the abyss of sadness.

- Shana Zhang

For more informations. Please check

The Principle of Being a Real Tea Master - Part 1
Become a real tea master - Step One
Become a real tea master - Step Two
ITA Tea Books
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