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.