I first connected with Sharon on Instagram in the summer of 2019. I’m always intrigued with her approach to spirituality, because she combines eastern and western philosophies to talk about mindfulness. So, when I asked her to write a guest post for My Spiritual Shenanigans’ readers, her suggestion was just as intriguing. Mindfulness through a Tea Ceremony.
I couldn’t resist! As a once ardent tea lover myself, I was curious what she had to say on the subject. I quit drinking tea a few years into my spiritual journey, because I wanted to decaffeinate my system. I wanted to experience higher levels of energy without any external influence.
To be honest, reading her submission has me thinking of reopening the gates to tea drinking. I’ve become open to the possibility that tea isn’t an addictive substance, rather it is a means to talk to the cosmos. You’ll see why, now. So let’s dive right in!
Can the simple act of drinking a cup of tea give us access to pure consciousness and divine infinite?
The ritual of tea drinking has been around for a long time, existing in transcendent stories, and legends that have been told thousands of years ago. Passed from oriental dynasty to dynasty.
In the olden days in Asia, the tea was revered as a medicine, given by the Tea
Doctor, who can prescribe the appropriate tea to bring about the balance between mind, body, and spirit.
Tea purifies the spirit, removes anxiety and nervousness and brings ease and comfort, and is conducive to meditation. This quality of the leaf accentuates our access to be in touch with our spirit and perform our inner work.
However, in this modern age everything seems to lead our senses outward and away from oneself. Drinking tea has become an unconscious process, accompanied by the daily newspaper, a corporate conversation or some other form of external distraction.
But the inward practice of meditative tea practice allows us to tune into the meaningful dialogue between tea and oneself. If we choose to listen.
The act of drinking tea originates from a place deep inside of us. Where words cannot hope to reach, so we listen with our heart, with our soul. In the stillness of the meditative act of drinking a cup of tea, we are inspired by an inner harmony between ourselves, nature, and the cosmos.
Such sentiment of balance between human and nature can even be seen in the Chinese character of tea, ‘Cha’ 茶 – where the symbol of ‘man’ is in literally placed amongst the symbol of ‘green, and ‘trees’.
So, through this act of partaking in tea we can begin to contemplate the deeper meaning of life.
From the perspective of an ordinary person living ordinary moments of life, symbolized by the ‘mundane’ act of drinking tea, we can choose to bring the stillness of nature into our mind and our heart.
We can begin to ponder the interdependence of all things around us, without which there is no us. We are nature, and nature is us.
By contemplating the interdependence of all things in this world, represented by the physical forms which are in front of us.
Reflecting on the cup and the tea, we become conscious of all other variables that together joined in harmony bring about our tea ceremony. Example, the tea farmers, the tea leaves, the sunshine, the rain, the teapot, where the teapot came from, the world….and so on infinitely.
In becoming conscious of this interdependence of all forms, we indeed realise we are in fact without distinct form; and that we are all interconnected.
So, it is through drinking tea, we observe that the form becomes formless, and the formless becomes form.
How A Tea Ceremony Can Open The Gateway To Oneness
When I perform a ritualised tea ceremony, the tea room becomes a sacred place. Without social distinctions, it’s a place where the ego could be left behind. And ordinary people share the heart and spirit without pretentiousness.
All in the room can bring about the qualities of respect, harmony, purity, and tranquillity to this moment; recognised as the four merits of a ‘tea person’.
The mindful way we drink the tea compels one to be present. We bring our focus to the act of pouring, sipping, smelling, and movement. The objective is to do this without drifting in the past or worrying about the future.
When one learns to be fully present, our actions become spontaneous, creative, skillful. We get mindful outcomes. When one becomes mindful of the eternal now, our actions are aligned with the present moment, Nature; rather than against the grain.
Through a tea ceremony, we also learn that things are always okay the way they are. This is observed through the simplicity of the tea gear, the natural steps performed in the ceremony, and the differing and diverse taste between successive pots.
One performs a tea ceremony with flow and non-judgment with what is.
In this way, we begin to understand the world is only imperfect when we compare it to some imaginary world created in our minds. And this imaginary utopia is an incomplete world, lacking all the complexity and depth and variation of which exists in our actual world.
The Spiritual Symbolism of Drinking Tea
This cup of tea in front of me is perfect for me in this moment, with all of its complexity and variety. And so this moment in life in front of me is the perfect moment with all its complexity and diversity.
Any spiritual practice of any kind must begin fundamentally with a bit of quietude and space. The sacred space given between tea and oneself then opens up our expansive awareness to our true essence. Here we exist in perfect harmony with all beings, moments, and nature.
It is in that expansive awareness, introspection, and quietude we rediscover the spiritual meaning of who we truly are.
When we can still ourselves in such a practice as Tea, we ourselves become emptiness. This is symbolized by a vessel/ teacup, allowing all experiences and change to flow through us.
As we allow all experiences to flow, we will observe the underlying non-dualism of pure consciousness, unoccupied by anything in its expansiveness.
This is our natural state.
Think. Love. Be.