Wu De and his disciple Sam, from Tea Sage Hut are unassuming Zen Monks. Mandala beads, beards & Wu’s traditional Chinese clothing, are hints that they are somehow of the world, but not in it. Upon meeting them, there is a clarity and warmth which conveys a rich and deep connection to truth, embodied through their daily Zen practice of taking organic, sustainable harvested tea from the ancient tea trees of China & Taiwan.
As a spiritual student that uses the breath & body as a vessel to explore connection to the divine, the use of tea for the same reason , intrigued me. I was eager to experience for myself the art of taking tea, not only as a carrier for consciousness, but as medicine.
Wu De is a Zen monk, yet he dives into the plant medicine realm like a Shaman, in his matter of fact approach he shares “That tea is medicine, with the right participation, it will change your life“. He speaks as one that knows, like all Zen teaching, a simple statement that transmits profound truth, left to the student to unpack.
As the evening progresses’ I learn, just how influential Tea has been & continues to be, not only in Chinese culture, but as an integral part of Buddhist & Zen spiritual practice. As the tea is served, Wu & Sam skillfully guide our circle into the art of listening & receiving, I feel peaceful & reflective. We are encouraged to drink more tea, I watch as Sam moves with a gracious humility around our circle, filling our bowls with tea, I tune into the subtle nuances which define Cha Dao as a sacred ceremony; refined, easily overlooked.
As a spiritual student of the Yoga path, it occurs to me that in our complicated modern world the living wisdom that is Zen tea ceremony leaves little room for manipulation & misinterpretation, thus it will call only to the serious seeker.
The gracious practice of Cha Dao guided by its living principles of serving, giving & sacrifice allows no space for reduction of knowledge, such as my expereience with elements of Westernised Yoga. In the practice of Cha Dao, tea is the living Deva. The one that illuminates the path, tea has no ego, therefore it is free from the delusion of the esteemed ego or personality often disguised among many spiritual teachers.
Wu speaks of the need to bring ceremony & ritual back into our lives, this being the very point of Cha Dao. He laments that if the West were to embrace ritual, Western culture and the complexities of capitalism would be much different. As our ceremony comes to a close Wu extends a challenge to our circle, asking us to think deeply about what we consume, why we consume & before we consume: anything. He invites us to embed ritual into our everyday routine and explore the sacred in all things.
The living wisdom of the tea ceremony, like all Ancient Sages imbibes the greatest truth shared along the path: that reality is all-inclusive, that Human existence is an integral part of nature not separate from it, that Tea like all aspects of creation is our TEA – CHER.