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  "Go for Tea!" 喝茶去!

"Zen and Tea are of one taste" (禅茶一味), the experience of tea drinking reveals the truth of Zen. There have been countless interpretations of this throughout history. One I appreciate the most is Tang Dynasty Zhaozhou Zen Master’s "Go for tea!".

"Go for tea!" What a simple, clear and straight forward expression!

It comes from a true story:
Zhaozhou Zen Master (778-897)  was an eminent monk, and a devoted tea drinker as well. He spent 40 years at the old "Pine Woods Zen Temple" in the Zhaozhou county of Hebei province.
One day two monks came from far to visit the Zen master asking about Zen.
Zhaozhou Zen master asked one of them, "Have you been here before?"
"No, I haven’t," answered the monk.
"Go for tea!" said Zhaozhou Zen master.
Then he turned to the other monk and asked, "Have you been here before?"
"Yes, I have," answered the other monk.
"Go for tea!" said Zhaozhou Zen master again.


The temple housekeeper who accompanied the visitors became puzzled and asked, “Zen master, how come you said ‘Go for tea!’ to the one who hasn’t been here; and the same ‘Go for tea’ to the other who has been here?”

Zhaozhou Zen master then called out his name, the housekeeper answered, and then the Zen master said to him, “Go for tea!”

The three words give utterance to his thoughts: to experience Zen is similar to experience a cup of tea. Whether it is bitter or sweet, warm or cold, it is up to you yourself to carefully taste, review and make sense.

Pine Woods Zen Temple (from 196 A.D.), Zhaozhou county, Hebei Province. Origin of the “Tea and Zen are of one taste” philosophy.
It is worth while to pay a special visit here, ideally with two or three tea friends. A cup of tea in hand, silent old pine trees around, you will sense the meaning of Zhaozhou Zen master’s “Go for tea!” 1400 years ago.

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Website author: Grace Guo   English advisor: Dr Andrew Hull   Swedish translation: Lars Jeding
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