Wu De – Zen & Tea
Sipping on Chinese tea and listening to, rather meditating on the wisdom of WuDe (Zen & The Art of Tea). A Buddhist monk and tea master.Beautiful, grounded words of wisdom. Two hours long, this one’s going to take a while but is going to be worth it.
“The Zen understanding is that ‘How you do anything is how you do everything.’ At the end of your lifetime on this planet you would have spent more time putting on and taking off your shoes than you will have spent doing that thing that defines you. And so how you put on your shoes also matters.” – Wu De
After listening to Wu De’s teachings on Zen and the Art of Tea I thought it would only be right to do a summary post on some of his teachings. In all honesty, while listening to this particular podcast I was transported to another world. Reflecting and realizing the chaos within myself and wanting a sense of calm. The clarity with which he spoke, often using stories and references to ancient sayings enhanced the experience.
Tea, it turns out is the second most consumed substance on Earth, after water. Wu De believes that tea is a social lubricant. He goes onto to say that it isn’t just a beverage, or a herbal medicine, or a spiritual path. It is also a time in which you set down the world.
One of tea’s ancient names means The Great Connector, and Wu De elaborates on the three main connections that tea is responsible for.
Connection to nature
Wu de says that we are not disconnected from nature and therefore we can’t be disconnected.“Our ancestor’s dependence on nature was tacit. What is lost now is the feeling of connection to nature.
Tea from season to season is different. So you’re literally drinking the weather. Because tea trees have such deep roots, it is said that they have access to trace elements that you can’t access elsewhere.
In the brew are earth, minerals, water, and mountains. They are pulling in the sunshine, moonshine and star shine. Through them, we are connecting to the sun. Through them, we are connecting to nature.”
Image source: https://500px.com/photo/7652251/dao-2-by-cwithe-
Connection to self
“Tea is a path from the outside to the inside. You pick up a bowl of tea with two hands, you start to drink it and you’re now focused on aromas and flavors in your mouth. And
then it goes down and you’re focused on psychosomatic (relating to the interaction of mind and body) changes in your body and now you are inward.”
Image source: https://society6.com/product/zen-tea-ii_print
He goes on to state an old Chinese saying, “Tea and meditation are one flavor.” A meditative mind means being calm and awake. Tea makes you feel calm and awake. This is the real way in which tea connects to you.
Connection to others
“Tea is about hospitality. It is about offering something without anything in return. It is about looking somebody in the eye and saying, “I see you, I care about you.”
While Wu De says that he is not anti-technology, he says that an increase in social media is supposed to be an increase in social connection. But they seem to isolate us in a social way.
“Every single one of these devices, every single one, has one feature in common – all of them come with an on/off button installed for your convenience.”
Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/barbery/7287052130/
Tea space is a space where we can switch off and be together. It relaxes us, it calms us, it helps us set aside our masks and helps us to make a heart space.
“A businessman builds a Zen garden in his backyard and in that garden is a hut. Once a week when he is free, he goes into that thatched grass hut. For those two hours he’s a hermit up in the mountains and he releases all worldly attachments and comes out quick to deal with his daily life.”