Category Archives: 15.Are they Rowers or Wave Frolickers?-Rong-tsang Tsai

Are they Rowers or Wave Frolickers?-Rong-tsang Tsai

Are they Rowers or Wave Frolickers?-Rong-tsang Tsai


是「撑船汉」还是「弄潮人」 Are they Rowers or Wave Frolickers?1

蔡荣章Rong-tsang Tsai

(2001.07《茶艺》月刊社论The Editorial of “Tea Culture Monthly”)


People question the need of an examination for learners of the Way of Tea. They argue that this could scare tea drinkers and turn them away. Come to think about this, if not for the examination, many of them will not have brewed a pot themselves even after they have completed the studies and graduated. Worst still; they may not have warmed up to tea drinking at all. Now, do you think this makes great sense teaching the Way of Tea? Such a way to tea learning will not forge a good enough relationship with tea in terms of time and intensity. It is highly likely that they will turn to some other interests, say flower arrangement, soon after.

During the lessons, we keep harping on the importance of brewing, drinking and cherishing tea, instead of just learning about it. What’s the good of mastering the knowledge without a passion for a cuppa? Some shy away from drinking tea because they are worried they can’t sleep. Some don’t feel like making tea; they just wait to be served because they think it is a chore of the servants. On the other hand, some take tea to prevent cancer, to slim down and shape up, to be trendy or just out of business needs. These are examples of tea drinking in a very superficial manner – it is no lasting affection, but short-lived preoccupation. The attention will be directed to some other interests in no time. For genuine tea gurus, it is nothing short of a love affair with tea. When tea becomes a part of life, the brewing and cleaning is no cause of dismay but a source of delight. Don’t get this wrong – it is not infatuation that stems from greed, but the feeling of mutual dependence developed over time. This applies to drinking tea, appreciating tea and enjoying tea; and this goes with researching into the history of tea, the ways tea is made, the art of tea and the thoughts surrounding tea. These are two sides of the coin essential to the attainment of the aforementioned realm.

Zen Master Fori from Hangzhou was quite an impetuous soul when he was young. He challenged fellow Zen believers wherever he went, and said once, “Whoever surpasses the level of Zen wisdom I have attained will be my teacher.” Fori took the opportunity to show off his knowledge during his visit to Zen Master Jiashan. His intention was as clear as bright daylight to the senior monk, who nonetheless recognized Fori’s potential. And yet, Jiashan thought that what Fori had demonstrated was knowledge of but not passion and enjoyment in Zen, and commented, “To me, you are more of a rower than a wave frolicker.” In the pursuit of the Way of Tea, we have a lot of such examples. These people soak up knowledge single-mindedly in order to flaunt in front of the others and for self-indulgence. Taking and making tea will then become a means without any affection and feeling. Such approach is no different from that of a boatman of rowboat shuttling between two jetties – he may literally be surrounded by water all the time; and yet, he feels nothing for it. He is only a rower and doesn’t really take a dip. Should he do, he will become a wave-frolicker and enjoy the water.


以下为文內之编码Coding in the text:
是「撑船汉」还是「弄潮人」?1 Are they Rowers or Wave Frolickers?
The aesthetics, character and the state of mind created are not to be undermined in the understanding and enjoyment of tea; and yet, they are the hardest to express. Writings on thoughts pertaining to tea, regardless of the languages used, remain scarce. We have attempted to express them in Chinese, with accompanying English translation(Translator:Katherine Yip.2010.01), to elaborate our thoughts as they are. What we want is to share with fellow tea drinkers something more than just the drinking of it. This is, in our opinion, an important contemporary task in promoting the tea culture (Coding in the text is for cross-referencing of academic tea term.)