Category Archives: 17.The Unique State of Nothingness-Rong-tsang Tsai

The Unique State of Nothingness-Rong-tsang Tsai

The Unique State of Nothingness-Rong-tsang Tsai

茶道的獨特境界—无The Unique State of Nothingness

蔡荣章Rong-tsang Tsai

(2003.03《茶艺》月刊社论The Editorial of “Tea Culture Monthly”)

It is just natural that a person wants to stress certain ideas related to his area of expertise and studies. This author is no exception – some ideas keep surfacing in between lines. The idea of ‘nothingness’, for example, is one of them.

Different schools of thought hold on to their own beliefs in the Way of Tea. Whatever the case, these beliefs will have to originate from ‘tea’ itself; any tagged-on thoughts that do not have their roots in tea will fizzle out, sooner if not later. By studying the origin and the use of tea, we have come to notice that ‘nothingness’ is one of its unique features. In the course of tea production, nothing is added – the process involves self-occurring reaction of tea leaves with the natural elements of air, water and temperature. It is this ‘nothingness’, however, that gives rise to tea infusion with a myriad of taste – from green to black, from white to red. When it comes to brewing, however sophisticated the technique, all it needs is water, which has no colour, odour, taste and almost no minerals. It is water and its unique nature (that could best be described as one of ‘nothingness’) that give tea infusion of different grades and flavors. As for drinking, the only state of mind for absolute appreciation of tea is an absence of preconception or prejudice1.. With no fixed mindset2., one will be able to appreciate each and every type of tea leaves with an open mind. The state of ‘nothingness’ is, as such, a characteristic of the Way of Tea that originates from tea itself.

We should also introduce and promote the concept of ‘nothingness’ through the organization of Sans Self Tea Gathering3.. The term ‘Sans Self’, literally ‘selfless’, may well be elaborated as ‘the self who is aware of the presence of nothingness’4.. First, seats are allocated by drawing lots5. with no reference to seniority, so one can sample tea brewed by different people. Second, tea is served in one direction6. with no specific intention, and hence, expectation of reciprocation or reward. Third, each individual brings along tea leaves of his own choice7., and participants will get to drink different types of teas with no preconception or preference; this helps to cultivate an open mindset. Fourth, there should be no conversation throughout the gathering8., as attention should be fully devoted to brewing a good pot. Fifth, there is no moderator as the procedure has been set beforehand9.; unlike the idea of becoming nothing (as in death) or having nothing (in terms of possession), such nothingness as in the absence of moderation signifies the culmination of our realization and enlightenment pertaining to wealth, knowledge, status or visual aesthetics, the same way as the seven colours come together to radiate light without any of those colours. Sixth, mutual understanding and coordination brings out rhythmic beauty of the masses10. – it is the best possible natural state between one another, between people and land, between people and things, and between people and the Universe, which are the diversified combinations that requires no particular pairing. Seventh, there is no specific requirement as to the tea ware or tea brewing methods11., the regional style or schools of thought; and this requires profound accommodation of the concept of nothingness. This way, we will be exposed to the fruits of everybody’s hard work, which enriches overall tea resources. Aren’t we all tea lovers? How would we discourage one another from developing better teas, coming up with more tea brewing methods, designing more tea utensils, and exploring theories and thoughts pertaining to tea? The reality is, there may just be too much of the fixed mindset on preconceptions, fame and fortune, and status that blocks our acceptance of the spirit of nothingness.

We believe that by taking in and spreading the idea of nothingness, tea gurus12. will be able to brew an even better pot, and enjoy more extensive resources pertaining to our tea culture.

以下为文内之编码Coding in the text:

1.absence of preconception or prejudice无好恶之心 fixed mindset无先入为主

3.Sans Self Tea Gathering「无我茶会」

4.‘the self who is aware of the presence of nothingness’ 「知道『无』的我」

5.seats are allocated by drawing lots「抽签决定座位」

6.tea is served in one direction「依同一方向奉茶」

7.each individual brings along tea leaves of his own choice「茶叶自备、茶类不拘」

8.there should be no conversation throughout the gathering「席间不语」

9.there is no moderator as the procedure has been set beforehand「依既定程序,不设指挥」 understanding and coordination brings out rhythmic beauty of the masses「默契与协调,显现群体律动之美」

11.there is no specific requirement as to the tea ware or tea brewing methods「茶具、泡法不拘」

12.tea gurus茶人

Introduction: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 the thoughts pertaining to tea, regardless of 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 the knowledge of tea alongside tea drinking.  This is, in our opinion, an important contemporary task in promoting the tea culture (Coding in the text is for cross-referencing of the academic terms of tea).