Category Archives: 03.無我茶會Sans Self Tea Gathering (Wu-Wo Tea Ceremory)-Chapter 3- Principles for Venue Setup-蔡荣章Rong-tsang Tsai

無我茶會Sans Self Tea Gathering (Wu-Wo Tea Ceremory)-Chapter 3- Principles for Venue Setup

無我茶會Sans Self Tea Gathering-Chapter 3- Principles for Venue Setup-蔡荣章Rong-tsang Tsai

《無我茶會Sans Self Tea Gathering 180條》

蔡荣章著Author:Rong-tsang Tsai

ISBN978-957-9690-08-9 “无我茶会Sans Self Tea Gathering180,” 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 3 Principles for Venue Setup

14. What kind of indoor venue is appropriate?

There is no special requirement as long as the venue is spacious enough for participants to form a closed loop when tea is brewed and the gathering in progress. In principle, it would be best for participants to be seated on the floor in order to get rid of tables and chairs; this helps eliminate barriers and gets people closer to each other. Even if the tea gathering is held at home with just one or a couple of people attending, leaving tables and chairs aside would help facilitate emotional communication. Having said that, the use of tables and chairs is acceptable for participants who find it difficult sitting on the floor, or when the floor surface is not appropriate for sitting.

The formation should be an enclosure – it could be a circle, square, rectangle or any other shapes, provided that it forms a loop. For a tea gathering of two, the participants should be facing each other.

15. What makes an ideal indoor venue?

What is good for indoors applies outdoors. Any space that is large enough for participants to form a loop will be good. They should be seated on the ground just to avoid the labour and commotion of shuffling chairs and tables around. As such, any lawn, stone-paved or concrete surfaces will serve the purpose.

A large piece of lawn or a public square would be ideal; but the path around the park, with its many twists and turns, may work just fine because participants could form a sort of circle along the path – the ends may not fully meet because of a bridge or other park amenities or features; however, on condition that participants can see and make their way to each other, the loop is considered complete. Undulating terrain is fine; as long as the way is clear, who would mind going up a few steps to offer tea?

If it is a large open space with a huge group, say of five hundred people, the place may look deserted and the people at different parts of the formation too far apart. In these circumstances, a formation with two or three concentric rows, or an ‘amoeba-shaped’ formation that curves in and out may be considered.

16. Is it necessary to choose a quiet and scenic place?

A tranquil and picturesque environment would be the best for hosting Sans-self Tea Gatherings. There are, however, a few exceptions: First, the choice of a high-traffic area for promotion purposes, such as demonstrating what this concept is all about to a larger number of people. Second, the choice of a noisy environment for cultivating our resistance to distraction – we once held a 60-person tea gathering in the concourse area at the entrance of a large department store right outside the bustling Taipei Railway Station; this could not be busier and noisier. We just formed a circle and served tea to passers-by. The belief is: when you can calm your mind and brew tea in such a place, nothing will stand in your way. Third, the choice of a set venue for a particular cause such as serving tea to the elderly at the old folks’ home, and organizing activities for a special or memorable day. Under these circumstances, we just have to make do with the environment.

17. What if it rains?

For outdoor activities, bad weather condition such as typhoon or torrential rain is the major cause of worry. It would be easier to have the tea gathering rescheduled to another date, or relocated to another place, if it involves a small group of people or close friends. However, if it is a large-scale event for the public, it would be advisable to have a contingency plan for bad weather, such as a nearby place for shelter or a postponed date, during the planning stage.

18. How bright should the lighting be for a Sans-self Tea Gathering held at night?

For such gatherings, participants will bring along their own lighting devices; as such, lighting at venues such as the park or football pitch should not be so bright that it washes out the light emitted from the personal devices; and yes, the soft glow of the stars in the sky as well. On the other hand, the venue should be adequately lit up to avoid accidents when people are moving about.

19. What should we do if, owing to the particular conditions and terrain of the venue, we cannot form a continuous loop?

This should not be a major concern. For example, if we want to incorporate lotus appreciation into a Sans-self Tea Gathering, but the lotus pond is so big that there is such a significant distance between the participants at both ends – it would be a long walk for them to offer tea and keep the loop going. In situation like this, all we have to do is to inform the participants concerned (whose seats are decided by drawing lots) that the few persons at the beginning of the loop may miss a few rounds of serving, as there will not be enough tea to be served from the right; and that those at the end of the loop will serve fewer rounds since there will not be enough participants on their left to offer tea to (assuming that tea is served from your left). Slight adjustment to the rules will ensure smooth progress of the tea gathering just the same.

20. What is the best seating arrangement for a tea demonstration on stage?

If a demonstration is staged to illustrate the format and spirit of a Sans-self Tea Gathering, the circular formation may be tricky – unless the venue has a wraparound seating arrangement with the stage at the centre; otherwise, people seated nearest to the edge of the stage will have their back to the audiences; hence blocking their view. For situation like this, it is recommended that a gap be left at the end nearest to the audiences, while maintaining the overall loop formation on the stage at large.

21. When hosting a Sans-self Tea Gathering for memorial purposes, what are the items to be adjusted?

For example, at a tea gathering commemorating the 1,300th anniversary of the birth of Lu Yu, the organizer put up a bronze statue of the Tea Ancestor in the hall. Beginning from both sides of the statue, the lineup of tea aficionados fanned out then turned inwards, until the two ends come together to form a circle. First, participant offered tea to Lu Xu by placing the cups on the table in front of the statue. The other three cups were then offered to the two fellow tea drinkers on the left and then oneself (as the format agreed beforehand). The participants on both sides of the bronze statue were considered as next to each other.

22. How much space is needed for a person seated on the floor? What is the distance between two persons? And how much space should be reserved in front of each person to ensure free flow of traffic?

For floor seating, there should be a cushion. Enough space is to be reserved in front of the cushion for tea brewing and the serving tray; at the back for the shoes and standing up; and on the right for the carrying bag for tea ware. Leaving about 160cm (back and front) x 80cm (left and right) would be enough.

There should be a clearing of 40cm on the left and right for people walking pass. If the venue is small, participants may sit side by side and leave some space on either their left or right for people passing through – when offering tea, the person on the left would move out from the left and the person on the right from the right. There should be a space about 80cm and above for people serving tea to you; any less would make it difficult for the person to squat down. Such space would only allow one person offering tea at a time. If two persons are offering tea at the same time to two fellow drinkers facing them, then the clearing should measure 160cm and above. In the event that one does not have a space of 80cm, then the two rows should not be aligned; rather, they should be shifted so that the person is positioned facing the gap of the row  in front (as shown in the diagram below).

無我茶會Sans Self Tea Gathering22条

A. Serving Tray

B. Tea Towel

C. Cushion

D. Shoes

E. Carrying Bag (for tea ware)

40 – space for walking through

80 – space for serving tea

23. How many people can this venue accommodate?

How many participants can this place host? The rule of thumb is to measure the length of the loop or loops for seating, and divide the measurement by 120cm or 100cm – in the first instance, the quotient shows the number of people the place can accommodate when the seating is more spacious; in the second instance, the quotient shows the number of people when the seating is not as spacious. If there is more than one loop to be formed, the number of people for all the loops will have to be added up.

Not to be forgotten is the depth — a participant will need 160cm, front to back, and an additional 80cm in front of him for tea serving. In the event that such depth could not be attained, a single row or an irregular-shaped loop formation could be considered. If the opposite sides of the same loop is very close to each other, there will have to be a clearing of 80cm and above in front of each person, to allow two fellow drinkers offering tea at the same time to the two persons facing them – it would mean a clearing of 160cm and above all in all.

If there is no appropriate measuring equipment, especially for a large square, a 24-meter piece of string will come in handy. Make a knot at the place where it measures 20 metres. This will give two indications – 24 metres will allow 20 people to be seated in a comfortable manner, while 20 metres can accommodate 20 people, too, albeit in a less spacious manner.

Meanwhile, the stride length of a person will be approximately 60cm; as such, a simple way it to take two strides as the space for one participant. Make one round according to the proposed loop formation for seating arrangement, and you would have a rough idea of how many people the place can take.

If the proposed arrangement is a circle, then all you need is the diameter to work out the entire length of the closed loop, or perimeter (which is diameter x ‘pi’, i.e. 3.1416). If the formation is an oval, you may work out the diameter on the shorter end, then add 10% to 20% to the answer depending on the type of oval, and you would have a rough estimate of the perimeter of the oval – for a very much elongated oval that is much longer than it is broad (an ellipse), add 20%; for an oval with not so much of a difference between the length and width, add 10%.

24. When organizing a Sans-self Tea Gathering in the countryside, the absence of public convenience could be an issue. Is there any way to overcome this inconvenience?

If there are no residences nearby where one could seek assistance, the organizer may find a way out by hiring the ‘mobile toilets’. And yet, if the area is too remote and hiring such facilities is impossible, identify a suitably-located spot and dig out some earth to make a small trench. Do a makeshift cover with reed and leave a small metal spade next to the spot; this will enable the user to spade some earth in afterwards. At the end of the gathering, make sure the place is cleaned up and leveled as it originally was.

One basic rule of the Sans-self Tea Gathering is simplicity. Administration is to be simple with minimal use of resources, manpower and materials included. Protecting the environment and sustaining the ecological system of Nature are also our priorities.

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