Monks who like their Tea

tea and buddhism
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Tea has long been associated with Buddhism. Do you know why?

There has been this explanation. During Buddhist sitting meditation, practitioners often need to sit upright, with the mind highly focused, and the body remain largely stationary for hours. It takes a lot of practice to be able to do that. If not, the person meditating may easily fall asleep from being motionless for extended periods of time.Although Buddhism requires its practitioners to refrain from stimulating foods, no restrictions have been placed on their consumption of tea; even though tea contained caffeine.

When the monks knew of tea’s ability to ward off drowsiness hundreds of years ago, everybody wanted it; and tea was widely consumed by the monks. This habit was also adopted by the Japanese monks that came to China to learn about Buddhism; and they brought tea back to Japan (to be planted), and integrated tea drinking into their Buddhist practice.

Relevant tea-drinking customs and traditions among Buddhists were also developed, making tea drinking a spiritual experience as well (such as the Japanese tea ceremony developed by Japanese monk Sen Rikyu, who advocated integrating the Zen principles of “harmony”, “respect”, purity” and “tranquility” into the ceremony, and who stipulated many of the rituals to be followed when preparing and drinking tea in order to achieve these spiritual qualities). Gradually, tea grew to become an integral part of Buddhism practice. And that was how tea and Buddhism became closely associated.

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