Friday, September 28, 2018

A civilization based on tea

Wenshan Baozhong, Shuixian cultivar
This summer, I read "Lord of the Flies" with my son. This book shows how kids and teenagers turn into violent savages after they were stranded on a desert island. The values of  civilized society are fragile and disappear all too quickly if we don't nurture them... I was reminded of this book this week as my Twitter feed had echoes of 'Kill the beast! Kill the beast!'. And while it's fine to argue with passion, what I witnessed is less a discussion than the affirmation that it's "us against them".

The nice thing about living in society instead of alone on an island is that we all specialize in what we do well and/or like. This enables us to give services to each other via money, which is much more efficient than trying to do everything ourselves. The cops are in charge of our security, the doctors take care of our health problems, the teachers teach the kids, the farmers provide vegetables, big companies sell complex products (cars, phones...)... I see the role of politicians to argue our ideas on our behalf and implement them if they win their election. Let them take the heat and become hated by half the country! This is their role and they are (pretty well) compensated for that. We, the non politicians, should try to get along with all the good people around us.

During tea class, Teaparker has very few rules: no cosmetics, no perfumes and no talk about politics. When we drink tea together, we wish to achieve a peaceful and happy state of mind. We also wish to share a common experience and treat others with the same respect we expect from them. Discussing political topics would divide us and create a nasty atmosphere. Enjoying a good tea, on the other hand, always brings us closer together! We feel gratitude and love for the nature and the men and women who have produced these leaves. And with our Chaxi, we feel a certain fulfillment, because we were able to express our feelings in an aesthetic and harmonious way.
Is it sunset or dawn for our civilization? I think it's time for tea!


Cwyn N said...

There has got to be a welcoming middle between sunset and sundown, where in tea as in the hallowed halls of anywhere else one can embrace that people come in the door with problems. That those problems weigh heavy. That the *gasp* woman next to you has that make-up on and the tea session is both hers and yours, not to ruin your peace, but making it possible for everyone to leave and stand it another day. The body who has nothing to bear today will get it in old age. Then, even tea may fall away. Can we say just come hither as you are?

TeaMasters said...

Dear Cwyn,
Thanks a lot for your comment. Let me just add that these rules are not enforced during public tea gatherings where everybody can come. They apply to the tea classes, so that the students can smell the tea aromas without the artificial scents of perfumes or creams... Otherwise it's like talking during a classic concert: you miss on part of what is played (and you impact others who came to enjoy it all). We have become so sensitive to outside scents that we even notice when wind brings kitchen smells from the next door apartment! (Then the fan is turned on!)

Curigane said...

Dear Stephane,

To be honest, I try to avoid the format itself for debating. Online debate is way too polarising and can easily turn sour and such debate happens within civilization. Those people with computers and internet are not really in a cave somewhere. :)

It just happens that we connect in person and not online. I am ok with this i think. Just don't participate in it and that's it.


TeaMasters said...

Dear Tiago,

Thanks for sharing. Yes, I agree that online debate gets polarizing quickly. It's too easy to forget that there are people with real feelings that will react in ways we can't know.