Tea and Meditation

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All the Buddhist masters have been drinking tea, it has been their discovery. It was Bodhidharma who discovered tea. The name `tea' comes from the mountain Tha in China, where Bodhidharma was meditating.

Zen has in its monasteries a special teahouse, and when they go for tea it is called a tea ceremony. They have transformed the simple act of drinking tea into a beautiful meditation. You have to leave your shoes outside as if you are entering into a temple. And there is a master who is going to lead the ceremony. Then everybody sits down in the silence of the monastery, the tea is prepared on the kettle and everybody listens to the music of the kettle boiling the tea. It becomes a meditation. Watchfulness is meditation, what you watch does not matter. Then the master with great grace brings the tea to everybody; pours the tea with immense awareness, consciousness, carefulness, respectfulness, and everybody receives the tea as if something divine is being received. In that silence sipping the tea ... and this very ordinary thing has become a spiritual experience. Nobody can speak in the teahouse, silence is the rule. When you put down your cups and saucers you also bow down with gratitude to existence. The tea was only a symbol.

A cup of tea in Zen is not the same as it is anywhere else in the world. A cup of tea is the greatest reception a Zen master can give to you. The cup of tea represents awareness. After drinking tea you cannot go to sleep; hence tea became one of the most important symbols of awareness, of meditation.

"Have a cup of tea" does not simply mean, "Have a cup of tea."

Certainly, the tea is offered, but with the understanding that the cup is full of awareness. A cup of tea has been used in many ways by the Zen masters.

Osho, Dogen: The Zen Master: A Search & A Fulfilment # 4

Osho, Joshu: The Lion's Roar, # 6


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