The Eight Teachings of the TAETEA System are the combination of courtesy and etiquette with spiritual edification. Spiritual edification refers to the re-calibration of one’s thoughts and deeds and the ultimate attainment of a healthy and harmonious way of life through the savoring of a uniquely sweet aftertaste of the bitterish tea and the experiencing of the beauty of tea making and thereby understanding the true meaning of life. Life is not all plain sailing. People for the most part are in thrall to the situation in which they find themselves. We tend to be elated in favorable circumstances and despondent in adversity. Zen Buddhism preaches that a true ascetic can remain unperturbed under all circumstances. In Discourse on the Supreme Vehicle, the Fifth Patriarch Hong Ren observes: “The five desires involve sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch; and the eight winds are prosperity, decline, disgrace, honor, praise, censure, suffering and pleasure. All these test one’s buddhahood.” In other words, resisting the “eight winds” is a good way to temper one’s character. The “eight winds” include four favorable winds and four unfavorable winds. The four favorable winds are gain, glory, recognition, and joy, while the four unfavorable winds are ridicule, defamation, loss, and agony, Dhyana in Zen means detachment from phenomena and tranquility in the heart. One who has truly attained dhyana will be faced with nothing at heart and remain unmoved by the eight winds.
The Eight Teachings of the TAETEA System are designed to serve as antidotes to the eight human vulnerabilities. If left unattended to, they will have a negative impact on one’s life. There are ups and downs, bewilderment and perplexity, good times and bad in life. What is important is that one should not stumble in good times and not be downcast in bad times. We will not lose ourselves as long as we can develop enough inner strength and have a clear command of the direction we are going. As Wang Yangmin said in Instructions for Practical Living, “Sainthood may be attained through cultivation.” By learning and practicing the Eight Teachings one can learn to overcome the eight vulnerabilities of human nature and try to improve oneself. That’s where the meaning of the teachings lie.
1. Cleansing or ablution as a stand against greed
Greed is the greatest vulnerability in human nature. Uncontrolled greed is like a consuming fire or a deluge that easily swallows up one’s life. A person’s legitimate needs should be met, but greed or excessive desire is bound to bring about infinite trouble.
“Cleansing” can be seen as a check against greed or lust,which may be compared to dust. A pure drink of tea can clear away the dust, clear up the mind and purify the heart and soul. Cleansing reminds us that people tend to want way too much when in fact the do not need that much. As Laozi puts it in Chapter 46 of Daodejing. “There is no greater trouble than insatiability and no greater vice than avarice.” A cultivator of Chadao should gradually attain purity of mind and peace and quiet of spirit.
2.”Opening:” an antidote to failure in Communication.
There is nothing more reprehensible than hypocrisy in interpersonal relations. Frankness is the gateway to the human mind. Communication forms the foundation of human social existence. Failure in communication brings about tension and social problems.
“Opening” as a teaching implies openness towards tea and people and openness among people. Dialogue between tea and people begins as soon as a tea party is unveiled. When you open up your mind to a friend, your friend will also open up himself to you. Openness is always mutual, just as frankness reciprocates. Whether in face of tea or people, frankness, sincerity, and freedom from affectation will result in goodwill and a sense of well-being in human interaction.
3.”Awakening” as an antidote to impassiveness and stupor
Everyone has same kindness in his heart, but due to various life experiences, especially when faced with too much darkness or negative information, we can consciously or subconsciously became insensitive, callous, cruel, and even outrageous, and turn a deaf ear to the call of our innermost heart,just like a clean mirror that gets covered in a thick layer of dust We all need guidance in times of perplexity and bewilderment. The teaching of awakening clears away the mist of the mind and enlightens the soul so that we may become sober and wise. On the surface, what is awakened seems to be the tea or the Chinese teapot; in essence, it is none other than the tea drinkers’ inner good, love and respect and adoration of life and nature. In this sense, the tea as a drink has the very effect of ablution and purification.
4.Measuring as an antidote to imbalance between give and take
On the journey of life there is give and take and there is loss and which is only normal. But many people often fail to understand this and they give when they should not and take when they are not supposed to. As a result, they get dogged by worries and troubles. The teaching of measuring drives home the point that one should do things in proper proportions and know the principle of give and take, Specifically, one should follow the ways of the world and take when time to take and give when it’s time to give, without trying the impossible, A wise way of life should be to make right decisions based on actual circumstance.
5.”Cultivation” as an antidote to eagerness for quick success
Impulsiveness, anxiety and eagerness for quick success seem to be common problems of people today. Many people of ambition tend to dream of beaming rich overnight, without wanting to pay what needs to be paid. A. a matter of fact, no one can expect casual success.
Success takes tenacious effort and a lot of hard work. Greatness is the distillation of patience, persistence, and meticulous care! That means one needs to pace down and keep the right momentum. Otherwise things can easily backfire. The teaching of cultivation tells us that tea brewing is an art involving rigorous procedures that beg of a lot of patience. We will fully comprehend the value of waiting once a good pot of tea is made. Patience is part of the cultivating process.
6.”Experiencing” as an antidote to double standard
A “double standard” refers to a set of principles that allow greater freedom to one person or group than to another for the sake of that person or group’s self-interests or even impose its own standards on another. Do not do unto others what you would not have them do unto yourself. The teaching of experiencing tells people that one should know how to put oneself in other peopled shoes and understand other people’s stands and feelings. What you give to other people should be what you want or want to get from them. So. one should not think from one’s own perspective only, but also from that of others.
7.Sharing as an antidote to egocentrism
Egocentric people are known for three things: 1) putting their own feelings and interests above those of other people and caring little about how others might feel or think, 2) self-centered and unduly demanding of others, and 3) knowing not how to care for or love others. How could egocentrism be overcome? Sharing is where we get started because it’s an effective way to open up one’s mind, cultivate low and overcome pettiness. Tea is not just any one person’s tea, just as Chadao is not any one persons Chadao. As tea professionals, serving tea and sharing tea with people are part of our jobs. We need to share tea both with our loved ones, including parents, spouse and friends, as well as with strangers or even those who hate us. By doing that, we are endowing tea with a sense of benevolence.
8.Finishing as an antidote to oversensitivity to loss or gain
In life, anything could happen any time. Faced with loss or gain, success or failure, different people will have different attitudes. However, prevalent concerns or excessive worries about personal gains or loss, which are in essence signs of diffidence, are a spiritual bondage of life. The teaching of finishing can serve as an antidote to this mentality. One should maintain a proper balance between grabbing something and letting it go. Tea drinkers do not just happen to get together. So, once together, we should treasure the time together. Since no party can carry on forever, tea drinkers should also learn how to let go and it takes wisdom to do that By letting go we free up our soul; by letting go we get to enjoy life; and by letting go we can embrace happiness tomorrow.