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Taoism - The Consanguineous Spirit of the Chinese Tea Ceremony

Taoism is a stanchion of Traditional Chinese Culture. It has such an affinity with other realms like art and philosophy, as well as culture. The idea of the "Harmony between Humanity and Nature" is the most effective macro thought of Taoism within the Chinese Tea Ceremony, "respectively inactive* and "leisurely enjoy" are the second and third.

A Macro Perspective of the Harmony between Humanity and Nature

The "Synergism of Humanity and Nature" is the perpetual topic of Taoism, even for the essential whole of Traditional Chinese Culture in our country. It is the conclusion of Chinese art life and the spirit of the Chinese Tea Ceremony.

Share the Space with Nature

Fitting between man and nature by the means of "harmony between man and nature" has impacts on the ideology of tea drinking. Tea drinkers are affected deep down that they feel "Heaven, Earth and I have the same roots, and all things are together". Therefore, the soul becomes so close to nature that the strong desire is felt to return to nature. This desire in the activities of making and drinking tea shows that "humanized nature" and "natural humanization" are the two main complexes of Chinese people.

Humanized Nature

"Humanized Nature" refers to the belief that, during the tea activities, people regard themselves as an integral part of the nature, where they could communicate freely with the nature, follow the nature's rules and reach the goal "to get along the world directly". The best known example of this is the Zhuang Zhou's Butterfly Dream. Zhuang is the second Taoist master after the master Lao Zi. He told a fable story: One day he had a dream in which he became a butterfly, a very big and beautiful one that comfortably flies in the garden. But after suddenly waking up from the dream, he wondered: was I dreaming of myself becoming a butterfly or was the butterfly dreaming of becoming me?

Such "Humanized Nature" happened a lot in Chinese history, like Su Shi's Mice Acting Minister Yuan Han Giving Me a Gallon of Valley-curtain Spring Water, Two Pieces of Round Dragon Tea, Thanking Him for This:

The spring water falls straight from the rocks, just like double dragons wakening everything. This tea and water are both the first in the world, three distinctions including people are rare.

The first sentence of the poem describing the water reminds the poet of the spring water falling from the rocks in the mountain, the next half of the sentence describing the Round Dragon tea manufactured in spring. Valley-curtain spring is the first spring in the world proposed by Lu Yu, Round Dragon Tea was the most excellent tea in the Song Dynsty, which both of them could be called number one, in the second sentence, he included himself with the tea drinking and enjoyed the combination.

On the Humanized Nature, the best description is Li Bai's Sitting Atone in the Jingting Mountain:

he birds just flew high away, the free clouds went away at ease.No tire of watching each other, only me and the Jingting Mountain.

The birds in the mountain just flew away Even the only cloud in the sky would not love to stay. They are all gone, leaving the poet and the mountain alone. The poet was watching the mountain whilst the did the same, which makes the poet feel that he was the mountain and the mountain was him as well. This close relationship is an excellent example of "Humanized Nature".

Of course, when we are talking about "Humanized Nature", it does not mean that the degradation into animals or rocks and trees. On the contrary, "Humanized Nature" refers to human-beings surpassing spiritually beyond their biological limitations, to break through the limits of material boudaries, to fully understand the life, the momentum and strength of nature, only in this way would we love nature more deeply.

The well-known Japanese painter, tea scholar Dongshan Kuifu said, "The spring water of heart cultivates me, only to give up the ego that you could see the truth." The process of humanized nature is actually a process of self giving up. "The birds flew high away" is giving up, "the only cloud gone by itself" is giving up, when you forget all the troubles of business, even yourself, you would become a part of nature. When you see the "the flowers near the river is redder than fire when the sun rise", you will have obtained the passion of life. When you listen to the "rain on to the lotus leaves", your heart would beat at the same pace of the rain, when you see the warm wind blowing the green water^, you would be able to hear from the depths of the soul. When you see the "red plums are growing on the tree", you would wish to "have the same dream with the plums". The valley after the sunset, the road full of fireflies, the dew on the flowers, now have all become kind and nice. You would find that beauty is all around you and everywhere.

Natural Humanization

"Natural Humanization" refers to that the personification and humanity of all things in nature. By the impact of the ideology "harmony between Humanity and Nature", in the eyes of Taoist, not only nature is alive, but also exists feelings and humanity. Humanization of Nature, even makes people achieve the thoughts that "birds, fish, animals and poultry are naturally close to people".This added a lot of close, warm, wonderful feelings of pleasure to tea affairs.

Du Fu wrote a poem called Reading Again the He's Five Poems . The Third;

Sunset on the platform, savouring tea when the spring wind breezes.

Slowly I am holding the pen painting and writing poems. Dragonfly and Kingfisher bird singing on the string and dragonfly landing on the fishing line.

Since today's delightful meeting, I don't know what time we would meet again.

The poem described the scene so naturally that it combined both humanized nature and natural humanization. After reading the poem, people would have a feeling that nature is so close and easy to access.

With the view of "Humanized Nature", not only the nature would be dose but also the grass and trees. Chen Jiru in the Ming Dynasty wrote in his poem Dragon Boat Festival Day, thanks by the rhyme and described this feelings,

The mountains after rainning is so green and pretty that hard to paint, if you want to know it you must ask the people who has a peaceful life here.

Tea flowers are brewing in the glass tea cup, the canna tree leaves grow flourishingly by the window.

Pollywogs playing with the crane bird at the end of tree, fish is swimming in the pool.

Sunflower and calamus are growing greenly, but the person is having white hair on his head.

The first three sentences of this poem are talking about drinking tea, play with the crane bird, playing with fish, whilist the last sentence of the sentence is an aphorism. Sunflower and calamus can be seen from the poem which makes the humanization of plant out of the paper and alive.

With the thinking of "Humanized Nature", the beauty of nature could be more delicately appreciated. Whilst with "Naturalized Human”, you could experience closely to the nature. It was just because of the thought of "the syncretism of human and nature", the Chinese tea scholars could appreciate the "fully spreaded emotions and thoughts", and the "heart of crane leads to the unknown".

Comply with the Morality of Nature

you say "combine with the nature" is the dream of returning to nature by the tea scholars, "Virtuously follow the nature" is the self pursuit of them. "virtuously follow nature" is an ideology of respecting human, respecting the birth, enjoying the birth and preserving the birth.

Respect Humanity

Lao Zi said, Hence the Tao is vital, so is the sky, the earth and human being.There are four vital elements in the realm, and human being is one of them"

Lao Zi thought that there are four big things in the universe: contains all things and is big; "sky" should be taken as big because it covers everything; "earth" carries everything and of course is big; although human being looks small, they were the "superior" creature on earth, the most spiritual and representative of all things on earth, so human being can be called big.

To put human as one of the greatest in the universe is meaningful by Taoism, which is a sign that human entered the era of self motivation. The reason that human could be one of the greatest creature is to explore the nature principles and follow them, to explore human themselves and develope the human nature.

The Chinese Tea Ceremony revealed "human respect" and thought through drinking manners. For example, they used to call the cup with saucer and cover "three talents" cup, which the saucer stands for the "earth". The cover stands for the "sky" and the cup itself stands for "human", which indicates that all of them are great. The gesture of holding the cup altogether is called "three talents combination", which means they should not be aparted. If you just use a Chinese tea cup to drink tea. whilst not using the saucer and the cover, it shows that you are the only brother. About tea, the ancient scholars thought that it is protected by the kept by the earth and raised by "human". Humanity effort is the biggest.

The "respect humanity" ideology of Taoism has effects on people's characters humanity takes one among the four greats. So, people should respect themselvees, have the spirits of self-love, self-confidence, self-reliance and independence.

Respect Birth

Respect birth is an ideology of the people in Taoism for tea.

LieZi says "Among natural things, humans are the most precious. "Taoism emphasizes especially on keeping in good health and relaxing the mind. There aren't particular rules for the Chinese Tea Ceremony by Taoism, but encouraging the internal exercises to reach the health keeping purpose. Ma Yu, the head of Quanzhen Religion, wrote the poem Long Thought of Tea:

One spear tea, two flags tea, do not trying seeking opportunities, otherwise you would lose your sleep.

Relaxing tea, natural tea, Taoism were entitled no to compete, without sleep but increases your virtue.

Ma Yu, his other name being Danyangzi, is the first disciple of Chongyang. He was in charge of the "Quan-Zhen Religion" after Wang Chongyang passed away. He said clearly in his poem that Taoist drinking of tea is different from common people drinking tea for fame and wealth. People who wish for or have fame and wealth would suffer from insomnia, which suggests their poor spiritual realm. Tea is a heaven-sent lucky plant to the Taoism, religious people would be more energetic after drinking tea, would get the enlightenment without much physical sleep, and eventually go to the heaven.

Enjoy Life

Taoism classical health book The Peace Works in All. The Secret Way of Getting Enlightenment said "The best way to treat oneself well is to take life joyfully just like an extremely thirsty person wanting to drink water. Take enjoying life as a basic need of life." Most of the Taoism people took tea as a big event of their enjoying life by the influence of Taoism. Bai Yuchan, one of the five Southern Taoist masters, has a poem Song of Wuyi Tea, which vividly described the leisure and realities of the Taoism life:

Its sweet flavor is like dew but better than Tihu, you would feel cheered up immediately after having it I would like to fly to the heaven but do not know if there is any tea?

From this poem, we could Know that he loves tea so much that after drinking the Wuyi tea, he felt so delight that he thought he could fly to heaven, which is a dream of the Taoism people. Yet he was still not satisfied and asked "not sure if there is any tea available in the heaven?" which means, he would prefer to stay on earth if there were no tea in heaven.

Following the Natural Time

"Follow the natural time, with the four seasons" requires people to keep with the developments and changes in the rhythms of nature.

Zhuang Zi thought that "Follow the natural time and adjust yourself, and you could avoid bad things happening." Everything in the world is changing like there are four seasons in a year. There are sickness, death, aging and birth, which the development of life. The concept "Harmony between Human and Nature" not. only requires the emotional closeness to nature, but also "morally and physically follow it". People live in an environment that is affected by the weather and climate all the time, spring, summer, autumn and winter, hot and cold, dry and wet. Those affect peopled emotion as well. It is suggested to adjust your way and amount of tea to drink with the changes of 24 hours of a day, 24 climate periods a year, and of course according to their own "biological clock", to determine whether to drink tea or not, what to drink and how much to drink.