Category Archives: N-2无我茶会Sans Self Tea Gathering (Wu-Wo Tea Ceremory)

N-2无我茶会Sans Self Tea Gathering (Wu-Wo Tea Ceremory)

Balancing ‘Freedom’ vs ‘Confinement’ at the Sans Self Tea Gathering -蔡荣章 Rong-tsang Tsai

無我茶會的「自由」與「法制」

Balancing ‘Freedom’ vs ‘Confinement’ at the Sans Self Tea Gathering

蔡荣章 Rong-tsang Tsai 

At a Sans Self Tea Gathering, seating is decided by random drawing. Participants settled down in a loop formation, then brew and serve tea in one direction for a pre-agreed number of brews. They remain seated after enjoying the last round of tea for a few minutes of music appreciation or meditation, before collecting their cups and packing up. The gathering then comes to an end. All participants of Sans Self Tea Gathering need to bring along their choice of tea ware and tealeaves; as such, there is no restriction on the method of brewing or the types of tealeaves used. This realizes one of the seven principles of Sans Self Tea Gathering: that there is no restriction as to the style or regional practice.

As the tea gathering progresses, small teapots, lidded cups and matcha tea bowls make their appearance; indeed, this is an interesting showcase of varieties. Sans Self Tea Gathering is a great opportunity to experience the different styles and regional practices of brewing in one occasion, where tea has brought people together. Differences only add to the substance and enjoyment of the Way of Tea. Everyone is free to make their choices and not confined to using a particular kind of tealeaves and brewing method.

Having said that, the absence of confinement is not a warrant for being ‘sloppy’ or ‘not serious’; otherwise, the standard of the tea gathering will go down. Participants will have to give it their all, and present the best possible tea infusion with their chosen brewing methods and styles. The ‘method’ is not confined, but it cannot be said for the ‘quality’.

The absence of confinement also refers to the discouragement of rigid ‘rules’ and ‘brewing rituals’.  While rules are crucial for the existence of Sans Self Tea Gathering, and brewing rituals are the basis upon which one’s spirit in the Way of Tea is founded, mechanical and formalistic practices will easily turn the event into a stage performance.

It is certainly not our aspiration to have Sans Self Tea Gathering becoming a mere style of tea gathering, or a school of thought pertaining to the Way of Tea. The rules and spirit must be maintained, and the quality keeps improving. Freedom and confinement, for this matter, will complement and balance each other.

 

  (514)

無我茶會的「自由」與「法制」-蔡荣章

無我茶會的「自由」與「法制」

Balancing ‘Freedom’ vs ‘Confinement’ at the Sans Self Tea Gathering

蔡荣章 Rong-tsang Tsai 

無我茶會是以抽籤決定座次,大家圍成圈圈泡茶,泡完茶,依同一方向奉茶。泡完約定的次數,聽一段音樂或靜坐幾分鐘,收回杯子,收拾茶具,結束茶會。茶具與茶葉都是自備,帶怎樣的茶具,使用怎樣的泡茶方式,沖泡什麼茶葉,都沒有約束。所以無我茶會在七大精神中有一款是:無流派與地域之分。

茶會進行時,經常看到小壺茶、蓋碗茶、抹茶等不同的茶具同時出現,泡茶的方式與風格也各異其趣。由此讓人很容易地體會到與會者是出自不同的門派、來自不同的地區。大家沖泡的都是茶,品飲的也都是茶,不同的泡法與茶味只是增益了大家茶道生活的內涵與樂趣,作為結合各流派、各地域茶人共同泡茶、品茶的無我茶會當然是「茶葉、泡法不拘」了。

但是我們不能將此項「不拘」解釋為「隨意」與「不嚴謹」,否則茶會的品質就低落了。在你選定的泡茶方式與風格之下,應儘量表現得圓滿且具境界,茶湯更是不能泡壞了,不拘的是「方式」,而不是「品質」。

上述的「不拘」尚有一層意義,那就是不拘泥於一定的「茶會規則」與「泡茶儀軌」。茶會規則是無我茶會存在的必須條件,泡茶儀軌是個人茶道精神賴以維護的基礎,但是太過機械化、太過形式化,很容易變成了一部表演機器。

我們不希望無我茶會變成僵化的一種茶會形式或茶道流派,它的規矩與精神必須維護,品質必須不斷提升,就有如「自由」與「法制」的相互約制與相互成就一般。

 

  (660)

The Question on Sans Self Tea Gathering with the most wrong Answer-蔡荣章 Rong-tsang Tsai

無我茶會錯誤最多的地方

The Question on Sans Self Tea Gathering with the most wrong Answer

蔡荣章 Rong-tsang Tsai

One of the questions for the 10th screening test for instructors of Sans Self Tea Gathering has an exceptionally high rate of error, at 66%. The question is as follows:

Which of the following should not be specified in the Notification?

A) the method to make tea B) the way to take tea C) the way to be seated on the seating mat D) the tea ware to be used

Prior to a Sans Self Tea Gathering, the Organizer would distribute a ‘Notification’ , which specifies the name of the tea gathering, time, venue, the way tea is to be served, the event flow and the distribution of task. ‘The way tea is to be served’ refers to the number of teas to be brewed, the number of brewing for each tea, the number of cups for each brewing, the direction in which tea is to be served and to which participant (e.g. first, third and fifth, etc), and whether onlookers will be served; if so, in what ways. This enables participants to understand the way in which a certain Sans Self Tea Gathering will take place.

As a rule, the Notification should not name the types of tea for brewing. The exception will be a ‘Green Tea for spring’ Sans Self Tea Gathering, whereby participants are requested to make green tea.  But it should not specify the origin or brand of the green tea. On the same basis, a Sans Self Tea Gathering should not be organized in the name of a certain tea plantation or brand name.

No restriction should be imposed on brewing. Any method, style or school of brewing is acceptable. As such, tea ware is not to be standardized. The requirement is for participants to brew well and the tea to be safe for consumption. Beverages that are not ‘genuine tea’ are not allowed. Since there is no restriction on the way to make tea, there is also none on ‘the way to take tea’.

You may wonder, if the way of brewing, serving and drinking is not restricted, isn’t there nothing much to be standardized? The fact is, when an instructor conducts training on Sans Self Tea Gathering, students are asked to follow instruction. It is because the instructor has identified, in his opinion, the best way for participation in a Sans Self Tea Gathering. However, if you have found a way that better suits you when it comes to attending a Sans Self Tea Gathering, you may go for it. This is not a matter of right or wrong.

The answer to this question is: All items (A, B, C and D) should not be specified in the Notification.

  (519)

無我茶會錯誤最多的地方-蔡荣章 Rong-tsang Tsai

無我茶會錯誤最多的地方

The Question on Sans Self Tea Gathering with the most wrong Answers

蔡荣章 Rong-tsang Tsai

第十屆國際無我茶會指導老師甄試時,學科考試的第二十條答錯率高達66%。該題內容為:下列哪些項目是不可於公告事項上約定的:

(A)泡茶的方法 (B)喝茶的方法 (C)坐上「坐墊」的方法 (D)使用的茶具

無我茶會舉辦之前會對與會者發放“公告事項”,上面寫明茶會名稱、時間、地點、奉茶的方式、茶會的程序,以及工作分配等等。所謂“奉茶的方式”是指這次茶會要泡幾種茶、每種茶泡幾道、每道茶要奉幾杯、要向什麼方向奉給第幾位茶友、要不要奉茶給圍觀的人及如何的奉法。有了這些約定,參加無我茶會的人就知道應該如何進行這場茶會了。

但是在公告事項上不可以約束大家泡哪類茶,除非這次的茶會定名為“綠茶迎春無我茶會”,則可以要求大家都泡綠茶,但不可以進一步限制一定要沖泡哪個產區的茶、或是哪個廠牌的茶。依此類推,無我茶會也就不能以某某茶葉產區或廠牌為名來召開了。

無我茶會也不可以限制泡茶的方法,任何的泡茶方式、任何的流派都被允許。因此,所使用的茶具當然也不可以加以規範。但是將茶泡好,而且安全衛生是被要求的。非“真茶”類的飲料也不在被允許的範圍。居然泡茶方法不拘,那“喝茶方式”當然也不能設限了。

泡茶、奉茶、喝茶的方法都不受限制,當然也就沒有非怎麼操作不可的規定,然而在無我茶會的教育訓練上都有一套制式的規則,老師講解時、要求同學練習時都是依章行事,為什麼呢?因為老師選定了這套他認為最好的方式來參與無我茶會,所以他要求向他學習的茶友要如此地執行。但是如果你有更適合自己的泡茶方式,在參加無我茶會時是可以使用自己的方式的,這個時候老師不可以説你不對。

所以這條試题的答案是ABCD皆不可於公告事項上約定。

  (517)

The artistic manifestation of the Way of Tea as expressed by Sans Self Tea Gathering -蔡荣章 Rong-tsang Tsai

無我茶會表現的茶道藝術

The artistic manifestation of the Way of Tea as expressed by Sans Self Tea Gathering

 蔡荣章 Rong-tsang Tsai

 Student: ‘As far as the Way of Tea is concerned, what is the difference between Sans Self Tea Gathering and other ways of making tea?’

‘Sans Self Tea Gathering is a form of tea gathering. It differs from the ten brewing methods we talk about from time to time; those are ways in which we make tea. Besides Sans Self Tea Gathering, there are also tea gatherings in the form of tea presentation setting, banquet or free-flow. Meanwhile, as you all know, brewing methods may involve small teapots, big containers or extended steeping of tealeaves, to name a few.’

‘In the artistic manifestation of the Way of Tea, the method of brewing is an application. How about the different kinds of tea gathering? ’

‘They are both applications in the artistic manifestation of the Way of Tea. Tea gathering is the style, brewing method is the means.’

‘Is the format of tea gathering and tea presentation setting the same as the “environment for tea drinking”?’

‘These are different concepts. The artistic manifestation of the Way of Tea should not be too dependent on, or too mindful of, the environment for tea drinking; otherwise, we will forget that we are brewing tea. The format of tea gathering, however, has an immediate impact on the art itself – the way tea ware affects the tea infusion and the brewing method the enjoyment of tea. The format of tea gathering should not be viewed as an environment for tea drinking; but rather, a part of the artistic manifestation of the Way of Tea.

‘Where lies the beauty of Sans Self Tea Gathering, apart from its role in the artistic manifestation of the Way of Tea?’

‘Although there is no event director on site, a Sans Self Tea Gathering takes place like clockwork. Each participant brews tea, then rise to serve tea to fellow participants on their left or right. After taking the first brew, each prepares another brew and serve, until the agreed number of brewing has been attained. After staying at their places for a short music appreciation, the participants go forth to collect their cups and pack. That’s when the tea gathering comes to an end. Throughout the tea gathering, no one speaks or directs the event flow; everyone follows the pre-agreed procedure and method. Such is the collective rhythm of Sans Self Tea Gathering – when all the participants put their heart and soul into brewing, serving and enjoying tea, a kind of beauty unique to the Way of Tea prevails.’

 ‘Would it be possible to look upon the entire tea gathering, from tea setting through tea brewing and serving to taking the tea, as a piece of work?’

‘Experiencing, or rather enjoying, the art of the Way of Tea is certainly realized by the entire tea gathering. The only worry is over emphasizing the impact of the event at the expense of the tea infusion; and the worry is real. Because of this, we have proposed the concept of the ‘Quintessential Way of Tea’, which helps us re-focus on the tea infusion. Tea, after all, is at the core of the artistic manifestation of the Way of Tea. This way, it won’t be mistaken as the art of tea drinking environment, the art of tea brewing or the art of moral enlightenment. You may say: Well, ain’t I making tea just the same?  True, but the pre-requisite is the realization that tea, the infusion, is at the heart of the Way of Tea.

(574)

無我茶會表現的茶道藝術-蔡荣章 Rong-tsang Tsai

無我茶會表現的茶道藝術

The artistic manifestation of the Way of Tea as expressed by Sans Self Tea Gathering

 蔡荣章 Rong-tsang Tsai

「無我茶會與泡茶法在茶道藝術的架構上有何不同?」學生問。

「無我茶會是〝茶會型式〞的一種,而我們常提的十大泡茶法是各種不同功能的〝泡茶方法〞。前者的茶會型式還有茶席式的茶會、宴會式的茶會、流觴式的茶會等,後者的泡茶方法就如小壺茶法、大桶茶法、含葉茶法等等。」

「就茶道藝術而言,泡茶方法是應用的方法,那茶會型式是什麼呢?」

「茶會型式與泡茶方法都是茶道藝術的應用媒介。茶會型式提供茶道藝術表現的一種方式,泡茶方式提供茶道藝術表現的一種手段。」

「〝茶會型式〞與茶席設置時所謂的〝品茗環境〞是一個概念嗎?」

「不是一個概念。我們說茶道藝術不能太依賴、太關注品茗環境,免得忘掉了自己在泡茶。但是茶會型式卻是直接影響茶道藝術本體,就有如茶具直接影響茶湯一般、就有如泡茶方法直接影響茶湯的被享用一般,茶會型式不能視為品茗環境,茶會型式與它要表現的茶道藝術是綁在一體的。」

「拋掉無我茶會在茶道藝術架構上的地位,無我茶會有何茶道藝術上的美感境界?」

「無我茶會在無人指揮的情況之下,大家將茶泡好,起身將茶依同一方向奉給左鄰或右鄰的茶友,然後大家喝茶,喝完茶又開始泡茶,泡完茶大家又一起起身奉茶。喝完最後一道茶,靜坐原位聽一段音樂,然後大家出去收回自己的杯子,收拾茶具,結束茶會。在大家席間不語、無人指揮的情況之下,大家依照事先約定的程序與方法進行著茶會的種種過程,這是茶道進行的一種美感。大家都不說話地專心泡茶、專心奉茶、專心喝茶,也是茶道的一種美感境界。」

「能不能從茶席設置到泡茶、奉茶、品茗,將整個茶會視為一件作品來看呢?」

「體會,或說是享用茶道藝術當是以茶會全場為標的,只怕大家太關注整場的演出效果而忽略了茶,事實上是極易導致這樣結果的,所以我們提出純茶道的理念,要大家把重心放在茶上,放在茶道藝術的核心上,只要這麼做了,自然就是茶道藝術,而不是品茗環境藝術、不是泡茶藝術、不是道德藝術。大家會說:我不是在泡茶嗎?沒錯,但這個前提必須充分把握住茶道的核心:茶,茶湯。」

  (494)

The true meaning of ‘setting aside personal preferences’-蔡荣章 Rong-tsang Tsai

無好惡之心的真諦

The true meaning of ‘setting aside personal preferences’

蔡荣章 Rong-tsang Tsai

‘Setting aside personal preferences’ is important when it comes to appraising tealeaves – our preference for certain types of tea makes it hard for us to be objective and unbiased when we are assessing the quality of teas. The same can be said of Sans Self Tea Gathering. A participant may be served with four types of tea (if each person is served four cups) because there is no restriction on tealeaves. As such, we have to accept and appreciate the tea offered by others. Keep our mind and heart open, and ‘set aside personal preferences’.

Having said that, ‘setting aside personal preferences’ is different from ‘not being able to tell the good from the bad’. There are two sides to the idea – firstly, it refers to the absence of a very strong feeling towards what one likes and dislikes; secondly, it refers to the ability to rise above personal feelings when we look at, accept and even appreciate matters that are different from what we are accustomed to. In the world of tea, there are different varieties – green tea, pu’er, oolong, black tea, and a lot more. If you insist on drinking oolong and neglect green tea, you are depriving yourself of the beauty of green tea. Meanwhile, tealeaves come in different qualities, from unbelievably good to downright poor. Your may choose to take only tea of premium quality, but what if there is none? You will probably say, “Well, this is not my cup of tea.” Or think, “I would rather pass on it than corrupting my taste”. Some fellow tea drinkers declare, “I take only the first two brews (referring to small pot brewing)” just to tell the others that latter infusions are not good enough for them. This attitude has left much to be desired because it rules out possibilities. By putting themselves on a materialist high ground, they are imposing upon themselves a form of self-imprisonment – it is not uncommon to see some people bolstered by wealth, knowledge or moral authority staying in self-built prisons and act in stereotyped ways.

This will bring us to what Laozi said: Harmonize with all that is bright as daylight, and identify with all that is common as dust. By breaking down the barrier between the self and the world around – light and dust included – we will be able to feel genuinely free in this vast universe.

What we advocate is an open mind and an open heart. Appreciate different types of tea with objectivity. Accept tea of different grades. Take all infusions, first or latter, with pleasure. The study of tea may be about progress –better quality tealeaves, better brew and better tea-drinking environment. And yet, we should not rule out latter infusions of lesser quality tea (as allowed by circumstances) if these are made with one’s best effort. (622)

無好惡之心的真諦-蔡荣章

無好惡之心的真諦

The true meaning of ‘setting aside personal preferences’

蔡荣章 Rong-tsang Tsai

我們評鑒茶的時候會提到「無好惡之心」,因為對不同茶類的喜愛度有了差異,在評判茶葉品質高下時就不容易做到公平與客觀。我們在無我茶會時,也會討論到無好惡之心,因為參加茶會時的茶葉是自行攜帶,如果每人奉茶四杯,每人可能會喝到四杯不一樣的茶,這時要以超然的心情來接納、欣賞這四杯茶,培養自己「無好惡之心」。

「無好惡之心」與「好壞不分」、「善惡不分」是不一樣的。我們所說的無好惡之心包含兩個層面的意義,一個是對不同事物或個體不要有太強烈的喜歡與不喜歡之心,另一個層面是要以超然的心情來觀看、接納、甚至於欣賞這些不同意義、不同境界的事物。就以茶為例,茶有綠茶、普洱茶、烏龍茶、紅茶諸種類,如果你一直固執於喝烏龍茶而不喝綠茶,那綠茶之美就一直無法進入你的領域。再就品質高下而言,各種茶都有好壞之分,如果你僅固執於喝好茶,那遇到沒好茶時怎麼辦?你可以說「不喝」、「寧缺勿濫」。又常聽到有些茶友說:「我只喝前面二泡。」(當然是指小壺茶而言),表示後面幾泡的品質已不足以令他欣賞。這樣的品茗態度、這樣的處世態度並不是我們贊同的,因為這只有將自己縮小在一個小區塊內,這小區塊是不是就叫做「養尊處優」呢?還不只此,那是一處讓遊客觀光的監獄。有些有錢人家、有學問人家、有道德的人家都是居住在這樣的別墅內的。

談到這裡,不禁讓人想起「和光同塵」的問題了,老子要我們與光綫、塵土為伍,要我們逍遥於大地宇宙之間。

我們主張:各種不同類別的茶都要客觀地欣賞、各種不同等級的茶葉都要接受、後面數泡的茶湯也要以愉悅的心情接納。我們精進於茶學,希望製造出好的茶葉、泡出好的茶湯、釀造出好的品茗環境,但不排斥在精心營造之下,無可避免之次級品、沖泡數道之後的老舊茶湯。(不在精心營造之下的劣质品可以不接受。)

 

  (511)

Feeling Free and Easy at the Tea Gathering-蔡荣章 Rong-tsang Tsai

逍遙於茶會的廣場

Feeling Free and Easy at the Tea Gathering

蔡荣章 Rong-tsang Tsai

Sans Self Tea Gathering advocates simplicity.  Participants bring along their favourite travel tea ware, sit on the floor in a loop formation, brew tea, offer tea to fellow participants on the left (or right) while reserving a cup for own consumption.  Details are stated in the ‘Notification’ distributed before the event; these include the starting time, the number of cups and brews, ‘after- tea activities’ (e.g. music appreciation or a few minutes of meditation). After brewing, serving and taking tea, participants collect their cups, tidy up and the tea gathering comes to an end.

There is no restriction as to the choice of tea ware, brewing method and tealeaves. Brewing well is the only requirement; it is the means to express the Way of Tea as one sees it. As such, how could we feel free and easy at the tea gathering with such a format?

Here are some tips. Take the seat decided by random drawing without any attachment to outcomes. Brew well, and offer your tea to fellow participants on your left or right, be they someone you want to get acquainted with or not. You will feel relaxed when you offer tea if you know the format of the tea gathering by heart. Don’t be judgemental; a benevolent mind is preferred. Otherwise, you would wonder why you have to offer tea to people whom you don’t know or like.

Better still; imagine yourself taking a helicopter view of the Sans Self Tea Gathering in progress. You will see a large group of people brewing, serving and taking tea in an orderly manner without an event director. Participants on both ends may not even see each other; but this would not stop them from moving in collective rhythm. It is as natural as the way our universe works – just like putting on extra clothing in winter only to take it off when warmer climes return in spring.

In the myth of Peng (giant bird) and Kun (giant fish), Zhuangzi said we should open up our mind. Explore the world high up and deep down, the way Peng and Kun did. He also pointed out that ‘the perfect man cares for no self; the holy man cares for no merit; the sage cares for no name.’ This mindset will make us feel free and easy at the Sans Self Tea Gathering and beyond.

 

  (369)

逍遙於茶會的廣場-蔡荣章

逍遙於茶會的廣場

Feeling Free and Easy at the Tea Gathering

蔡荣章 Rong-tsang Tsai

無我茶會是大家攜帶自己的簡便旅行用茶具,席地圍成圈圈泡茶,泡完茶,將茶端出去奉給規定的數位茶友,最後一杯留給自己。事先以一紙“公告事項”約定好茶會何時開始?泡幾道茶?每道茶泡出幾杯?泡完茶後進行怎樣的“品茗後活動”(如聽一段音樂或靜坐數分鐘)?如此泡茶、奉茶、喝茶後,收回自己的杯子,整理好自己的茶具,結束茶會。

茶會的形式就是如此簡單,帶什麼茶具、以什麼方式泡茶、泡什麼茶,都沒有約束,只要求把茶泡好,把自己所要表現的茶道境界妥善地傳遞出來。在這樣的架構之下,如何才能悠哉地遊走茶會之間,達到逍遙的境界呢。

在座位的選擇上,抽到什麼號碼就坐到那個位置上去,隨遇而安。泡好茶,將茶奉給規定的茶友,不管是不是您想要結交的對象。將茶泡好是絕對必要的,而且必須充分理解茶會進行的方式,如此就可以很放心地把茶奉出去。這期間還要有「奉茶」的胸襟,否則您會追問自己,我為什麼要奉茶給他喝?我又不認識他,甚至於還是我不喜歡的人呢。

您還得跳出會場,將自己提升到較高較遠的地方,反觀大夥兒在無人指揮的情況之下,秩序地進行著泡茶、奉茶與品飲的動作。甚至於會場東邊的茶友還看不到西邊的茶友,仍然在一定的規範之下進行著茶會的程序。於是,您體會到了宇宙運轉的規律,您放心地隨著冬天的到來增添衣服,隨著春天的到來脫掉厚厚的外套。

莊子要人們變成大鳥大魚,飛得高高的,潛得深深的,放寬心胸,看清楚宇宙性狀;還說“至人無己,神人無功,聖人無名”,有了這些認知與習慣之後,就可以逍遙於宇宙之間,逍遙於無我茶會的廣場了。

 

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San Self Tea Gathering requires full participation of all-蔡荣章-Rong-tsang Tsai

無我茶會是大家一起參與的茶會

San Self Tea Gathering requires full participation of all

蔡荣章-Rong-tsang Tsai

There is a certain format to follow when we organize a San Self Tea Gathering. With simple tea ware for travelling, each participant is to be seated in a loop formation and serve tea in one direction for a pre-agreed number of brews, after which they will pack up. A key feature is participation of all – each participant will have to be fully involved throughout the tea gathering. This is why someone once concluded that a San Self Tea Gathering is an occasion when everyone brew, serve and enjoy tea.

When a fellow tea drinker wanted to organize a San Self Tea Gathering some time ago, he announced, “It is proposed that the occasion accommodates forty participants, among whom twenty will bring along their tea ware for brewing. The rest, who either have difficulty in bring their tea ware, or are not familiar with the procedure of a San Self Tea Gathering, will be treated as onlookers and served by their fellow participants.” We were dumbfounded upon hearing this, as it could not be further from the spirit of a San Self Tea Gathering. Firstly, such arrangement would have undermined the intention to do away with hierarchy – there are bound to be people who find it too troublesome to bring their own tea ware, and ‘privileged’ ones who think that they are to be served rather than to serve. As such, the Organizer need to remind participants individually to ensure there are enough participants bringing the required tea ware. The truth is if such activities are to adopt the name of San Self Tea Gathering, it is necessary for them to adopt the practice as well.

We may chance upon some friends while on the way to a San Self Tea Gathering. It is fine to ask the friends to come along. These non-brewing participants could draw lots for seating, and may be served tea by fellow participants. The only thing is the participants to their left (if this is the direction in which tea is served) would be served one cup less (since these are non-brewing participants). Meanwhile, for venues with a lot of people passing by, there may be ‘onlookers’ who are interested in the tea gathering. The Organizer may arrange for a presenter to explain the nature of the activity to these onlookers, and prepare some disposable cups for serving a couple of brews to them. Do note that this is different in implication from telling participants beforehand that some of them are exempted from bringing along their tea ware.

The organizers must be able to master the nature of the activities they are putting together; this cannot be truer than when we are organizing tea gatherings with clear ideology. A failure in presenting San Self Tea Gathering with integrity would make it very hard for newcomers to feel for it.

 

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無我茶會是大家一起參與的茶會-蔡荣章

無我茶會是大家一起參與的茶會

San Self Tea Gathering requires full participation of all

蔡荣章 Rong-tsang Tsai

無我茶會是大家攜帶簡便的旅行用茶具,圍成圈圈泡茶,泡好茶後依同一方向奉茶;大家品飲完約定的泡數,收拾茶具,結束茶會。這其中有一項根本的原則就是「大家攜帶……」,意指「大家共同參與」。所以才有人歸結無我茶會為:人人泡茶、人人奉茶、人人喝茶的茶會。

有次一位茶友主辦無我茶會,對外宣佈:「擬接受四十人報名參加,但其中要有二十個人攜帶茶具泡茶,其餘的人,如果不便帶茶具,或是不懂得如何進行無我茶會,就當作圍觀者,一旁接受別人的奉茶」。當我們聽到這樣的說詞,感到非常驚訝,發現已偏離無我茶會的主軸遠矣。首先,無尊卑之分的觀念即遭受破壞,在這樣的說法之下,有些人會嫌攜帶茶具麻煩,有些人會覺得以自己的地位無須泡茶給別人喝。這時,主辦單位必須逐個叮嚀,才會有預期的人數攜帶茶具。既然以「無我茶會」為活動的名稱,就應該依照無我茶會的規矩進行。

路上碰見朋友,於是一同前往參加無我茶會,無我茶會允許他們一塊兒抽籤,一同接受奉茶,只是他們左邊(若約定向左奉茶)的幾個人少一杯茶喝而已(因為這幾位臨時加入的人沒能泡茶)。至於所謂「圍觀者」是指茶會在眾人出入頻繁的場所進行,難免有群眾駐足圍觀,這時無我茶會可以安排一位對外的解說員,告訴圍觀者這群泡茶的人正在進行一項怎樣的活動,並安排一二道茶,以一次性杯子奉茶給圍觀的人共飲。這與活動籌備之時就言明有些人可以不帶茶具泡茶是不同意義的。

每一項活動的舉辦都必須掌握它的特質,尤其具有強烈思想性的茶會形式。否則無法將其面貌完整呈現,也難於讓初次接觸者產生感動。

 

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Why is tea served in one direction at the Sans Self Tea Gathering? -蔡荣章-Rong-tsang Tsai

无我茶会为何非要单边奉茶不可

Why is tea served in one direction at the Sans Self Tea Gathering?

蔡荣章-Rong-tsang Tsai

I am pretty clear of the reasons for most of the practices of Sans Self Tea Gathering. For instance, why a ‘loop’ seating arrangement is preferred; why seating is determined by random drawing; why participants are free to choose their brewing method, tea ware and tealeaves; why all participants have to observe the rule of silence; why there is no master of ceremonies; and why each participant takes tea brewed by the others as well as themselves. And yet, one thing puzzles me. Why do we serve tea in only one direction?

Participants of Sans Self Tea Gathering serve tea in one direction. For example, if a participant is to brew four cups of tea, three of these will be served to the three fellow participants on the left, and the last one reserved for own consumption. If it is agreed that tea is be served to the second, fourth and sixth fellow participants on the right, and the last one reserved for oneself, everyone will follow. Someone once said, “Is it not equally orderly if I serve one cup to the participant on my left, and two cups to the participants on my right, while reserving the last one for myself?” Another person suggested, “Why couldn’t I serve the first brew to the three participants on my immediate left, the second brew to the three participants on my immediate right, and the third brew to the fourth, fifth and sixth participants on my left? This way, I would be able to serve more people.” The fact is, serving tea in one direction would steer us away from any expectation of reciprocity – we serve tea to participants on our left, and are served by participants on our right. For the two suggestions mentioned above, the second idea is somewhat acceptable under this principle, but not the first one.

Principle aside, the emphasis on social interaction is too strong if we are to, as the second suggestion goes, serve tea to our left and right. Anyhow, the persons to be served may not be at their own places. Engrossing in social interaction distracts our attention from tea. At a Sans Self Tea Gathering, we are not encouraged to be too mindful of who the brewers are. When we are to serve certain participants in the designated direction, we will be able to do so for the sole purpose of serving. Meanwhile, taking four brews from the same people would enable us to feel the sincerity and efforts of the brewers. A wider coverage may increase the reach, but it will be hard to get to know the tea and the person in just one cup, as each cup of tea in each round comes from a different person. Furthermore, it is impossible to rinse the cup for different tea every time.

Even when everything goes like clockwork, there could still be such a scenario: a participant may want to offer one or two extra cups of tea to someone he wants to get acquainted or catch up with, having noticed that there is still some tea left. This is, however, too socially-inclined, and may cause misunderstanding among those you have served during the gathering – they may think that you serve them because you have to abide by the rules, but the people over there are the ones you really care!

What Sans Self Tea Gathering advocates is a peaceful, comfortable, and exquisite way of living.  Simple, necessary rules are fine; an excessive emphasis on functionality and requirements may undermine its charm.

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无我茶会为何非要单边奉茶不可-蔡荣章

无我茶会为何非要单边奉茶不可

Why is tea served in one direction at the Sans Self Tea Gathering?

蔡荣章-Rong-tsang Tsai

无我茶会围成圈圈泡茶我懂、抽签决定座次我懂、泡茶方式与茶具不拘我懂、茶叶种类不拘我懂、会间不准说话我懂、茶会进行时不设司仪我懂、喝别人的茶也喝自己的茶我懂,唯独单边奉茶我不懂。

无我茶会的奉茶是采单边奉茶的方式,例如约定每人泡茶4杯,奉茶给左邻三位茶友,最后一杯留给自己,大家就都依着这么做,如果约定每人奉茶给右邻2、4、6三位茶友,最后一杯留给自己,大家也都依着这么做。有人说,我奉一杯给左邻,二杯给右邻,一杯给自己,不是也很有规律?也有人建议,为什么不第一道奉给左邻3位,第二道茶奉给右邻3位,第三道茶奉给左邻4、5、6位,这样不是可以奉茶给更多的人喝吗?无我茶会之所以采取单边奉茶的方式,其目的在养成大家〝放淡报偿之心〞,因为我奉茶给左边的茶友,但喝到的茶是来自右边。前面第二个建议还能不违背这项原则,但是第一个建议就不对了。

违背无我茶会基本原则的做法姑且不说,即使第二个建议,第一道奉到东,第二道奉到西,我们也认为太过社交性,况且你奉茶时对方不见得在座位上。太过社交性也降低了对茶的专注,我们还提醒大家不必太关心喝到的是哪位茶友所冲泡的茶呢。如果都是同样的奉给某一方向的某几个人,你可以全然地无所为而为的奉茶,在接受奉茶的一方可以专心品尝每一杯茶的四道茶汤,足可深刻体会对方认真为你冲泡的茶汤作品。如果只是泛泛地奉茶,虽说是与会者间的接触面增加了,但每道都是新的茶,都是不同人泡的茶,小小的一杯茶汤是不足以体认茶、体认人的,而且杯子又没能每次清涮。

另一个现象是:都依规矩做了,但奉完茶后发现还剩有茶汤,于是就跑到他想要特意结交的那个或那几个人那里加奉了一杯或二杯。这也都是属于太过社交性的做法,而且容易引起误会,以为你奉茶给我只是依规定行事,事实上你的朋友在那儿。

无我茶会想要塑造的是安详、自在、且精致的生活,简单且足够的规章就行了,太多的功能性与对它太多的需求反而减弱了它的可爱。

(完稿20120829周三小方块WEDNESDAY TEA CORNER)

 

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無我茶會Sans Self Tea Gathering (Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony)-Chapter 14 Presenter’s Script for Sans Self Tea Gathering-蔡荣章Rong-tsang Tsai

《無我茶會Sans Self Tea Gathering (Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony)180條》

蔡荣章著Author:Rong-tsang Tsai

ISBN 978-957-9690-08-9,“无我茶会Sans Self Tea Gathering(Wu-Wo Tea Ceremony) 180” ,First edition: 1999.9, Second edition: 2010.9.《无我茶会180条》,1999.9第一版,2010.9第二版.台北陆羽茶艺股份有限公司.2012.05.20修订版.-English Translator : Katherine Yip,英语翻译:叶德明.

Chapter 14     Presenter’s Script for Sans Self Tea Gathering

A Sans Self Tea Gathering requires neither an event director nor master of ceremonies. However, the Organizer may assign a presenter to brief observers about the procedure and the meaning behind this unique form of tea gathering, if it is held in public. Such arrangement helps promote Sans Self Tea Gathering; it facilitates understanding of the concept, which is not to be confused with event facilitation.

Presenter’s Script for Sans Self Tea Gathering

Steps

Subject

Talking Points

1.Placing of number plates

a. Event

report

a. Ladies and gentlemen, we will be hosting a Sans Self Tea Gathering at __________ (time).

Please join us. During the tea gathering, our fellow brewers will be offering tea to you.

b. What is

Sans Self Tea Gathering

b. Participants of Sans Self Tea Gathering bring along their own tea wares. Seated in a circle or loop, they serve tea to fellow tea drinkers; this way, each participant enjoys tea brewed by different persons. It is essentially a form of tea gathering where everyone brews, serves and drinks tea.

 c.On-site happening

c. Seat number plates are being placed. Participants are seated in a circle or loop. Later on, they will take their places according to the numbers they have drawn. This realizes the first principle of Sans Self Tea Gathering, namely “there is no hierarchical differentiation.”

___(number) participants are attending this tea gathering; therefore, the number plates will be arranged in __(number) circles or loops.

d.Engaging the crowd

d. Ladies and gentlemen, today, each participant will be brewing four cups of tea, two of which will be served to you, our dear guests. Please stay with us. You will get to enjoy different types of tea (including those from Japan, South Korea, China ……).

e.Introducing the main and co-organizers

e. This Sans Self Tea Gathering, entitled  _________(name of tea gathering),  is held in conjunction with the _______ (occasion). It is organized by (the International Sans Self Tea Gathering Promotion Association) (and ____), and co-organized by _____. The Organizers wish to express their gratitude to the parties and individuals who have lent us their assistance and support.

2.Signing in

a. Drawing lots

a. Ladies and gentlemen, as you can see, the participants are arriving. Seats are determined by random drawing; no one knows who will be next to them until they are seated. This embodies the spirit of the tea gathering whereby we accept things the way they are – there is no hierarchical differentiation.

b.Participating parties

b. Participating in today’s ____ (name of tea gathering) Sans Self Tea Gathering are (all) fellow tea drinkers from ____ (I can see participants (from Japan) coming in….) .

c. Taking the seats

c. Participants are now taking their places according to the drawn numbers; some of them are already taking out their tea ware.

d. Tea Utensils

d. Ladies and gentlemen, take a look at these tea wares, how they are wrapped and being carried about. Tea ware for Sans Self Tea Gathering should be kept simple. Hot water is stored in the participants’ thermal flasks. There are different kinds of tea ware, too, including those for (matcha). Participants are free to make their choices of tea ware and brewing methods, thus realizing the second principle of Sans Self Tea Gathering: that “there is no restriction as to the school or regional practice in brewing”

e.Tea ware appreciation and networking

e. When tea ware is laid, participants may proceed to appreciate others’ tea ware, and greet and talk to each other. This is what we called the “Tea Ware Appreciation and Networking” session. It is a good time for photos; once brewing begins, no photos are allowed. Participants may ask non-participants to take photos for them outside the circle.

If the owner is not around, or no permission is given, participants should not touch the tea ware of the others when they are appreciating it.

3.  TeaBrewing

a. When to brew tea

a. When the “Tea Ware Appreciation and Networking” session is about to end, participants will return to their seats and begin brewing. Timing is stated in the “Notification” distributed prior to the tea gathering. There is no event director or master of ceremonies at the venue; everyone follows the pre-determined schedule, just as the third principle of Sans Self Tea Gathering goes: “Everyone follows pre-agreed arrangement”. When there is no event direction at the tea gathering, people could focus on the beauty of collective rhythm. Today, I am here to explain to you what Sans Self Tea Gathering is all about. Imagine I was not here talking, the impression of the tea gathering would be much more graceful.

b. Venue clearing

b. When brewing begins, the area inside the circle or loop formation must be cleared so as not to compromise the integrity of the venue. Filming crews and photographers have to move out; if necessary, take a few snap shots and leave the area promptly.

c. Observing silence

c. No talking is allowed once brewing begins; everyone will concentrate on making tea. Participants offer tea to each other without verbal exchanges, such as  “thank you” and “have some tea, please” – a slight bow, and a smile, is enough. A peaceful and tranquil environment is conducive to an aesthetic experience and the bond between people, matters and space the tea gathering brings. This is another characteristic of Sans Self Tea Gathering, namely “Appreciating mutual-understanding and the beauty of collective rhythm”.

d. Ways of serving tea

d. Ladies and gentlemen, now you will see how tea is served. Each participant offers tea to the three fellow participants on his (left), and reserves the last cup. This way, tea is served in the same direction.  “Uni-directional flow of tea serving” is a rule of Sans Self Tea Gathering. When you serve tea to your left and receive tea from your right, you are “expecting no action of reciprocity”, which is one of the seven principles of Sans Self Tea Gathering.

e. Setting aside personal preferences

e. The four cups of tea a person drinks could be entirely different, because the choice of tealeaves is personal. Sans Self Tea Gathering wishes each person to accept and appreciate tea without letting personal preferences get in the way. Preference rules out things you don’t like, which could be something intrinsically wonderful. By rejecting, we could be depriving ourselves of the blessings in life. “Setting aside personal preferences” is the way of tea that Sans Self Tea Gathering advocates.

f. Getting better each time

f. Not all tea is masterfully brewed. There may be one or two cups that are downright bitter and astringent. When this is the case, we should ask ourselves: “Have I brewed a bad pot, too?” “Brewing a good pot” is basic. Bad brew is a disgrace to ourselves, disservice to the others, and yes, to the tea brewed. “Getting better each time” is one of the seven principles of Sans Self Tea Gathering.

g. Second cup

of tea/round of serving

g. The participants will be serving their second cup of tea to our guests. Today, you will be drinking various kinds of tea brewed by fellow tea drinkers from different places (Taiwan,…). This is indeed a gathering of friendship and goodwill. Hold on to the cup; this will be used for the fourth round of serving.

h. Third cup of tea/round of serving

h. The third cup of tea will be served with the tea pitcher; again, it will be served to the three persons on one’s left with a cup reserved for oneself.

i. Alternatives for the directional flow of tea serving

i.Tea can be served either to your left or to your right. Likewise, it is not a must to offer tea to your three immediate neighbours; alternative arrangements can be made. For example, one may be serving tea to the second, fourth and sixth fellow tea drinkers, or the first, third and fifth fellow tea drinkers next to him, on either side, as long as the arrangement is made clear in the Notification in advance.

j. A brief history of Sans Self Tea Gathering

j. Sans Self Tea Gathering was introduced in Taiwan in 1990. Today, it has won worldwide recognition. This unique form of tea gathering takes place in different countries, including China, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, etc. They take turn hosting an international Sans Self Tea Gathering at given years. This year (next year), we will be having the __th International Sans Self Tea Gathering at _______(country/place) in _______(month).  You are all welcome to join us.

k. Fourth cup of tea/round of serving

k. The fourth cup is now ready. This is dedicated to all our guests. This time, it could be a different person serving you a different kind of tea. With the Way of Tea, we are encouraged to brew for others, even strangers. This practice is certainly upheld in a Sans Self Tea Gathering.

l. Cups used by the guests

l. Ladies and gentlemen, enjoy your tea. The participants will begin packing their tea ware shortly.  To avoid any inconvenience and to stay friendly to our environment, they will collect the cups they have distributed. (If the cups are given away as souvenirs, revise the script)

m. Embracing the ‘beauty of the void’

m. When the last brew has been taken, there will normally be a short session of music appreciation that demonstrates the ‘beauty of the void’ embraced during a Sans Self Tea Gathering. This is a time when participants relish the aftertaste, and refresh their memory on what has happened in the course of the gathering. The music comes on without any introduction and requires no applause. As the music fades away, participants begin collecting their tea ware and the tea gathering is coming to an end. (Revise the script if other forms of post-tea activities are arranged. Omit if no such activities are arranged.)

4. After-tea Procedures

a. Post-tea activities

a. (No explanation is required)

b. Wiping the cups

b. Before packing, wipe each used cup to avoid it being too messy when others come and collect their cups. This gesture is in line with the spirit of the Way of Tea, whereby we put others’ interests first. The tea ware will have to be washed when one is back at home.

c. Collecting the tea cups

c. After wiping the used cups, participants will proceed to collect their tea cups from other participants, (as well as tea cups from the guests, along the way). Silence is still observed.

d. Packing the tea ware

d. After the cups have been collected, pack tea ware properly.

e. Tea ware for travelling

e. Ladies and gentlemen, pay attention to these ‘travel’ tea ware used by the brewers. You may want to prepare a set similar to this, so you can enjoy tea when you are travelling or going out with your family. Note the way these items are packed: Tea cups must come with ‘cup covers’. Two of the cups are ‘hooked’ onto the teapot and bundled up with a wrapping cloth, while the other two cups are stacked with the tea pitcher and bundled up with another wrapping cloth. The idea is to proceed in a well-planned, systematic manner to the very end. There is this common saying: What has begun well must end well.

f. Service Counter

f. Ladies and gentlemen, (The Sans Self Tea Gathering Promotion Association) operates classes on the Way of Tea conducted by experienced instructors at different places. There are also classes on Sans Self Tea Gathering at fixed time and venues.  For more information, please proceed to our service counter.

g.Thank you

g. We would like to express our gratitude to ______ for providing us with ______ for the today’s Sans Self Tea Gathering. (Omit if not applicable)

h.The End

h. Ladies and gentlemen, we appreciate your feedback about this Sans Self Tea Gathering. Thank you for participating, and we look forward to brewing tea together next time.

i. Group photo

i. To commemorate this special occasion, we would like to invite all our guests to come together for a group photo.

This Sans Self Tea Gathering has come to an end. We would like to thank everyone for a wonderful time together. See you soon.

 

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