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Wistaria Cha Dao
Translated from a Wistaria Tea House Brochure
Artwork by A. D. Fisher

Wistaria tea culture is an evolving aesthetic, an enchanting art and a noble method of cultivating oneself. For those that come into contact with this culture and share in the subtle aroma of fine teas, it bears an abundant sense of comfort and artistic inspiration. Wistaria teahouse embodies a creative spirit, trying to merge art and ethics in a modern spiritual practice. In these turbulent times, it is important for humans to create realms of critical distance and cultural resistance from negative and unhealthy social or political trends. The world of tea and its simplicity open one to such sensual and spiritual experience. And it is with this intention and vision that Wistaria operates.

Wistaria tea culture strives to find meaning and vitality in everything, no matter how ordinary. In the world of tea, even utensils are endowed with a spirit and disposition of their own. A dialogue between the tea, drinker and their bliss opens the senses and improves one's ability to recognize the environment and its potentiality. A pot of flowers, a painting on the wall, an open window all become far more elegant moments, as if Heaven itself were brimming over the cup before one. We might view the tea and teaset as Earth, the feeling of bliss as Heaven and the Qi as the medium through which we travel. There is a traditional Chinese symbol that depicts Heaven as a circle that surrounds the square Earth. This might be interpreted as suggesting that Heaven is a formless state woven all through the tangible Earth if we but had the eyes to recognize its presence in the flowers, windowsill and steaming tea summoning us towards it.

The founder of Wistaria Tea House, Zhou Yu, has developed four principles that guide modern Cha Dao: Quietude, Presence, Clarity and Completion. In the Way of Tea, wc take out our utensils and prepare our water with reverence - not as devotion to anything other than the act itself, its ordinary poise and our own inner serenity.

Quietude is the first and perhaps most important aspect of the Way of Tea. If one is busy chatting and the mind is running, then which part of oneself is enjoying the tea? Who can chat about the weather and really caste a tea deeply at the same time? If one is drinking precious and rare tea, the experience must not be wasted. Fine teas are appreciated much better in silence. The conversation between the tea and oneself is far more important than anything that needs to be said out loud, if one wishes to listen. In this modern age everything, everywhere seems to lead the senses outward and away from oneself. Don't be afraid of quiet. Find the time for peace and introversion, and life will have new meaning.

Presence means that we stay in the moment, here and now. The Way of Tea compels one to be present. One practices concentration and focus by being with the pouring, sipping smelling and movement as it is. This helps calm the mind and center it on the moment at hand, without drifting in the past or worrying about the future. There is much relaxation and peace in the present moment.

Clarity of sense will definitely occur as one practices more and more. The subtler sensations caused by the tea will become apparent. With time, one will begin to feel the Qi in the body and recognize its movement. As the mind becomes clearer, the waters less ruffled, more aspects of the tea are available for enjoyment. This clarity and subtlety will later translate to all aspects of life.

Completion means that one begins to feel a connection to the environment, to nature and the universe. This completion satisfies like nothing else. One feels that the present moment is perfect and whole, nothing needed or wanting. In that way, acceptance and wisdom, renunciation and true freedom are available. The comfort and depth of experience in tea can be a doorway through which we connect to the Dao.

Cha Dao can be realized in the everyday life of any person. When guests come, a cup of tea is offered and conversation flows more smoothly. The culture of tea then becomes an interchange between friends and is often transmitted in this way. Later, one finds a kind of rich simplicity and abundant stillness through the ritual of drinking fine tea daily. The profundity found just beyond the silence that tea inspires is deep, giving rise to joy and reflection, contemplation and meditation. Without such introversion a life is incomplete. Many of the problems in the modern world arc directly related to an ignorance of the dialogue between nature and man that can only arise when all external stimuli are removed and tranquility is sought. A healthy life with serenity, equanimity and wisdom is not a figment of ancient stories. Even in this day one can live in the Dao.