The Eight Teachings of the TAETEA System are both a scientific method of tea brewing and a set of graceful etiquettes demonstrating the beauty of Chadao. They are both a unique experience of life and an effective way to savor and comprehend the spirit of Chadao. They bear the following five basic characteristics:
1.A process going from the external to the internal and from form to spirit.
The Eight Teachings are a process of self-improvement that cultivates both the exterior and interior, or both form and spirit. They attain a spiritual level of both internal and external refinement through the intermingling of outer norms of action and intrinsic moral beauty. They are a combination of form and spirit. Externally,there are specific tea brewing skills and methods and dear tea etiquette and norms, which constitute the form. Internally, there are specific psychological orientation and spiritual claims, which constitute the spirit. Only when external cultivation is combined with internal cultivation, and form is coupled with spirit, can the ceremony count as artistic activity. The teachings of the ceremony can be comprehended in light of the three Buddhist doctrines of higher virtue, higher mind, and higher wisdom, or adhisila-sikkha, adhicitta-sikkha, and adhipanna-sikkha. The three Buddhist terms, simply put, refers to discipline, meditation and wisdom, respectively. Sila/discipline prohibits sinful deeds and speech; Samadhi/meditation prevents distraction through the seeking of inner peace; and panna/wisdom is the pursuit of truth amid deceit and delusion. This triad is critical to achieving Buddhist enlightenment Buddhists who practice Buddhism start by learning these three things.
The Eight Teachings can also be understood as discipline, meditation and wisdom in Chadao. The formula of the eight teachings cannot be altered at will. Each brew has to methodically follow prescribed procedures and protocol The brewer has to stay pious and focused. This is the discipline of Chadao. The tea professional studies the Chadao according to the eight teachings by prioritizing a peaceful environment free from outside interference. He or she has to relax and feel comfortable, appear self-possessed, calm and free. This can be referred to as meditation in Chadao. In cultivating Chadao, one must do more than just follow rules and regulations, he or she has to enter body and soul into the spiritual world of Chadao and try to gain discernment and enlighten the soul through repeated practice of the eight teachings, so that he or she may be able to understand the true essence of life and the universe from nothing more than a cup of tea.
2.An independent, open and recurrent system
In Chapter 25 of Daodejing, Laozi says, “There is something naturally born, prior to heaven and earth. Independent, unchanging, and going about at ease, it may be regarded as the mother of the universe.” Here Laozi focuses on two aspects of the Tao: 1) Independence and invariability, which means that the Tao exists in an objective and independent form, free from any human will; and 2) Recurrence and eternality, which refers to the laws of evolution and operation of the Tao that are recurrent and cyclical. These same characteristics can be said of Chaodao as reflected in the eight teachings.
Each of the eight teachings is independent but interrelated, thus forming a unified entity. Cleansing, for example, has the particular meaning of “cleaning off the dust and quieting down the mind to get ready for tea service.” Since Chadao is a clean service, tea service professionals are required to clean themselves heart and and shut down the noises of their minds.
It is the precondition of and prelude to the ensuing sessions of opening, awakening, and cultivating, which are intrinsically interrelated. It is when the dust of the world is cleaned up that people can quiet down and deal with one another in all sincerity. The heart and soul will not awaken or develop until the dust is washed away. One tea master may get different insights from different teachings, while different tea masters may have different insights from the same teaching. And that’s where the appeal of Chadao lies.
The TAETEA System is an unending cyclical system. The cycle consists of cleansing,opening,awakening,measuring,cultivating, experiencing, sharings and finishing. The end of a cycle does not necessarily mean completion. Rather,it may mark a new beginning, which means finishing may be followed by cleansing in a new cycle. This goes on and on in a never-ending, ever-renewing process, just as how it is with all cognition in human society.
3.Organic combination of People, Tea, and Tao
In tea activities, people, tea, and Tao together constitute an organic community. As the experiencer of tea activities,people get the true essence of Tao through the making and drinking of tea and their ideological level gets uplifted as a result.
Tea is a bridge of communication between people and Tao so that the esoteric Tao gets close to people’s lives in a vivid manner. The medium and carrier effect of tea cannot be ignored. It reminds one of the finger that points to the moon or the raft that wades across the river, Tao, which is the fundamental principle of the universe, the mystery of mysteries and the gate to all wonders, needs to be manifested to people in vivid, figurative and tangible art forms.
The Eight Teachings are a paradigm of the organic combination of people, tea and Tao. Study and training of these teachings consists of two stages: union between people and tea and union between people and the cosmos. The union between people and tea refers to the tea professional’s process of physical and spiritual communication with tea. The dose contact and interaction between people and tea plays a role in the union of the natures of people and tea.
The union between people and the cosmos means that in tasting tea, the tea professional derives what is essential in natural tea, gets nourished by the spirit of heaven and earth and gets so commingled with the universe that he or she forgets his or her own presence. Hence, the tea professional’s life becomes coexistent with heaven and earth and one with everything. The progression from union between people and tea to union between people and the cosmos is a natural and uplifting transition. Learning and practicing the eight teachings will involve specific savoring of the tacit harmony between people and tea, which will gradually upgrade to the tacit harmony between people and the universe.
4.Effective ways of dealing with worldly affairs
The eight steps of tea brewing incorporated in the Eight Teachings mesh with the behavioral logic of humanity and offer inspiration on how to deal with lifers devastating and bewildering moments. They are: calming down (cleaning up the dust), organizing one’s thoughts (opening), provoking inspiration (awakening), evaluating plans (measuring), implementing (cultivating), bearing the consequences (experiencing), disseminating experiences (sharing), and putting it to an end (finishing).
If teaists could handle various problems in their life and work using this set of methods (or aptly using any one or several of them), they will find them very beneficial. They will have the self-composure and staying power to deal with problems in a steady manner, without feeling anxious, obfuscated or bewildered. During the process, their worries, angst, doubt and other negative feelings will also be alleviated or eliminated. Instead, they would feel relieved, full of positive energy and empowered to face life and society with optimism.
5.An Artistic Display of Life
Chadao is both an art of life and an artistic way of life. As an art of life, it cannot be detached from the daily lives of the people, including substances of daily living such as firewood, rice, cooking oil, salt, vinegar, and tea. As an artistic way of life, Chadao represents an upgrade of one’s status of life and follows certain rules of artistic creation, as illustrated in qin (traditional Chinese string instruments), the go, calligraphy, painting, poetry, zen and tea. The Eight Teachings are the combination of a scientific tea-drinking method and an aesthetically appealing behavioral art They highlight the internal and external beauty of the teaist art and convey aesthetic appeal through body movements. Such beauty can include beauty of environment, water, utensils, tea, and art. The teaist’s adroit, skilled and graceful acts, the utensil’s delicate beauty,the tea’s enticing aroma and mellow and palatable taste, and the lovely and comfy environment etc” all speak of the inherent beauty of tea images, tea taste, tea environ,and tea appeal,so that the teaist, while enjoying the drink with gongfu tea set, may begin to have imaginations and pursue poetic dimensions that purify the soul so that it becomes elevated.