Thursday, January 28, 2010

Korean Tea Texts, Classical and Modern [ii]: The Cha Bu of Hanjae Yi Mok


[[EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the second in a series of entries by Warren Peltier on Korean tea texts. For the first and third entries, click here and here.]]

In this entry I offer a summation of the basic ideas expressed by Hanjae in Cha Bu, accompanied by my own notes and commentary.

First, Hanjae observes that the common people drink to be happy. The common people engage themselves in material things, or idle entertainment or delectable tastes. They are happy to the end of days and never tiresome of it. What kind of character is this? Like Li Bai 李白 embracing the moon (while drunk and then drowning); or like Liu Bo Lun 劉伯倫 (also known as Liu Ling 劉伶), drinking crazily all the time. It is enjoyment without restraint: occupied with collecting material things, wasting energy on fun, overindulging in food and drink. Such as was the case with Tang poet Li Bai (Li Po). Li Bai loved wine, and he wrote many poems about drinking wine. Finally, he was said to have drowned while drunk, trying to grasp the moon. Liu Ling (flourished during the Western Jin dynasty) was an even more hopeless drunkard. There are many anecdotes of his drinking bouts. For example, he would walk about the house naked; when people saw him and made some comment about his state of undress, he would remark: “Heaven and Earth is my abode; this house my clothing. What are you doing under my clothes?”

Hanjae sates himself by reading Master Lu's (Lu Yu) Classic of Tea and absorbing the essence of the book, his heart cherished this marvelous work. Moreover, enjoyment of tea is not like enjoyment of wine or song. Tea is highly efficacious; and good for the body.

Next follows a discussion of some of the Chinese characters used for tea and the names of individual teas. These include 'ming' 茗, 'chuan' 荈, and 'she' 蔎. Then there are tea names such as Immortal Palm, Sound of Thunder, Bird Beak, Sparrow's Tongue, Waxed Face, Dragon Phoenix, Tender Flower Bud, Pure Mouth, Before the Rains, After the Rains, Pre-Spring, Early Spring, Double Brook, etc.

Hanjae then names geographic areas where the soils are suitable for tea growing. He also lists many different Chinese characters containing the 'mountain' radical ('shan,' 山), and says that these are places for growing tea. Moreover, tea comes in myriad types. There are the purple, green, light-green, and yellow leaf types; early sprouting, late sprouting; short leaf, and long leaf types.

He then goes on to describe the process of brewing and drinking tea, and the scenery in which he brews tea. He has a jade-green bowl, and himself boils mountain spring water. Many ancient poets write of preferring to boil their own water personally, since they could thus be assured of the quality of the tea. And there is also much satisfaction to be taken from brewing the perfect bowl of tea. While boiling the water, he has a view of white steam rising out of kettle. This becomes an occasion for a flight of poetic fancy: he can see summer clouds and the mountain brook amid mountain gorges. The water starts to boil producing great waves like those of a river in spring. The sound of the water boiling is a swish swish sound like a frosty wind whistling in bamboo and cypress groves.

In a more literary and descriptive form, he borrows from the theme of Seven Bowls of Tea from Lu Tong's poem; and describes the environment and feeling of drinking seven bowls of tea to become light in body; able to rise to the heavens and become an immortal.

Five Functions of Tea

Hanjae also ascribes Five Functions to tea: to quench thirst; to provide abundant conversation; to aid host and guest in cherishing their mutual connection; to fight parasitic illness; and to prevent hangovers. These are all very practical reasons why one should drink tea, and drink it often.

Six Virtues of Tea

Then Hanjae says there are Six Virtues of tea. Condensed to one word apiece, they are: Longevity, Recovery, Calm, Leisure, Immortality, and Etiquette.

Hanjae makes several assertions about the drinking of tea, in the process referring to a number of well-known legendary or historical individuals (on all of whom, see below). He claims that tea
• Causes longevity; imparting to the drinker the virtue of Emperors Yao and Shun.
• Causes one to recover from illness, to have the virtue of speedy recovery just as if from treatment by the miraculous physician Bian Que.
• Causes one to have a calm mind; to have the virtue of Bai Yi and Yang Zhen.
• Causes one to be put in a leisurely mood; to have the virtue of the Two Ancients and the Four White Beards.
• Causes on to become an Immortal, like Laozi and the Yellow Emperor
• Affords one the opportunity to learn etiquette, to have the virtue of the Duke of Zhou and Confucius.

Hanjae says that Jade River (or Yu Chuan -- the refined name for Lu Tong) tasted tea with praise in his 'Seven Bowls of Tea' song. Master Lu (Lu Yu) happily tasted tea traveling about the country, surveying tea-growing areas and the quality of the teas in those places. He dedicated his life to tea without need for an official post or for material things.

Hanjae summarizes by expressing the idea, since in my heart there is tea, then what need for those impermanent, material things? Tea is sufficient contentment in and of itself to last a lifetime.

Historical Figures Mentioned in the Six Virtues of Tea

Yao 堯 and Shun 舜 were legendary emperors of China. They were benevolent rulers and their kingdoms prospered. They are often held up as examples of fairness, good rule and governance. They lived a long time. On the other hand, rulers who were cruel and vicious to their subjects had a very short rule and a short life, since the common people would rebel against them.

The story of Bian Que 扁鵲 is related in the Han Fei Zi《韓非子》. One day Bian Que went to visit Duke Cai Heng 蔡桓公. Just at glancing at him, Bian Que said: “I see that you're ill. You have an infection on your skin. If not treated, it will spread internally.” The Duke, however, was unbelieving and simply replied: “I'm not sick.” After Bian Que left, Duke Heng remarked: “Doctors always want to claim people are sick and prescribe medicines in the hope of receiving rich rewards; and thus prove to everyone they attained a high level of medical skill.”

After ten days, Bian Que again visited Duke Heng and said: “Your illness has already spread between skin and muscle. If not treated, your condition will become more serious.” Duke Heng said nothing; and Bian Que left.

After another ten days, Bian Que came to visit again. He said to Duke Heng: “Your illness has already spread into the stomach and intestines. If not treated, your condition will become more serious.” Duke Heng said nothing again; and Bian Que left.

After another ten days, Bian Que caught a glimpse of Duke Heng from afar; but this time he lowered his head and ran off without bothering to greet the Duke. Duke Heng thought this was strange, so he sent someone over to ask Bian Que what was wrong. Bian Que said: “Skin disease can be cured with hot water by scalding. Illness between skin and muscle can be treated by acupuncture. When illness spreads to stomach and intestines, it can be treated by a dose of an herbal decoction. But once illness has entered the bone marrow, doctors have no course of treatment to follow. Now your lord's illness has entered his marrow. I can't give him any treatment that will work effectively.”

Five days later, Duke Heng was suffering severe pain and sent for physician Bian Que. But Bian Que was nowhere to be found. He had escaped to the Kingdom of Qin, so as not to be blamed for the Duke's worsening condition, lack of treatment, and likely death. Duke Heng then died. The moral of this story is to always immediately seek medical attention before one's condition worsens beyond help.

Bian Que lived (407-310 BCE) during the Spring and Autumn or Warring States period. He was from what is now Jinan 濟南, in Shandong province.

Bai Yi 伯夷 (lived around 1140 BCE)
Bai Yi lived during the time of King Zhou of the Shang 商紂王. King Zhou was a ruthless king, so Bai Yi lived in seclusion in the mountains far away from his madness. He got news that King Wen had made his country stable and development was very fast; so he decided to leave the mountain and see for himself. While Bai Yi was on the road, he met the soldiers of King Wen’s son and heir, King Wu. Realizing that King Wen had died, and seeing that King Wu was using all the carts and horses to make a raid on King Zhou of the Shang, he remarked: “The father is dead and not even buried yet and already they are going to war. Is this the way to show filial piety?” Later, King Wu killed off everyone of the royal family in the Shang dynasty court, and founded a new dynasty, the Zhou dynasty. This occurred in the year 1046 BCE. Bai Yi severely detested the actions of King Wu, feeling them very shameful. He then vowed never to eat any food from the Zhou Kingdom. However, at that time, the rule of Zhou was very wide. He then went to Shou Yang Mountain 首陽山 to pick and live on wild fiddleheads. Bai Yi, however, realized he would soon die of starvation with only mountain plants to live on. And so he did, holding steadfast to his virtue. Because of his integrity and moral values, he was highly praised by Confucianists thereafter, and considered a good moral example to follow.

Yang Zhen 楊震 (59-124 CE) from a very young age loved to study. When he was older and educated, he became a dedicated teacher, accepting many students while not discriminating between rich or poor. He taught over 2,000 students, becoming very famous. Later he had even more students, and his disciples numbered over 3,000 -- a number comparable to the number of disciples that Confucius had. Because of his ideals and calm temperament, he did a great deed for society; and he serves as an example for inspiration.

The term 'Two Ancients' refers to Laozi 老子 (literally meaning “Old Master”; author of the foundational Daoist text Dao De Jing 《道德經》; venerated by Daoists as a god and immortal) and Lao Lai Zi (“Old Master Lai 老萊子), both of whom were reputed to have lived a very long time. Lao Lai Zi (599-479 BCE) lived during the same time as Confucius. He was a famous thinker and one of the original creators of Daoist philosophy, as of course was Laozi.

The term 'Four White Beards' refers to the Four White Beards of Shang Shan 商山四皓. These were four men who during the Qin period lived as recluses on Shang Mountain. Because they were all men in their eighties, with white hair, eyebrows, and beards, they are known as the “Four White Beards” ('Si Hao,' 四皓). Specifically, they were:
Dong Yuan Gong 東園公
Xia Huang Gong 夏黃公
Qi Li Ji 綺裡季
Lu Li Xian Sheng 甪裡先生
They were all highly respected and virtuous people. They were once Imperial Court Officials but left their positions to live in the mountains because of the volatile nature of the Qin imperial court.

The Yellow Emperor (Huang Di) 黃帝 (2697-2599 BCE) was one of the Five Legendary Emperors of China. In the Daoist religion, he too is venerated as an immortal. There are many anecdotes attributed to him talking about the Way.

The Duke of Zhou (also known as Zhong Gong Dan 周公旦) was thought to have been the primary creator of the Book of Changes (Yi Jing or 'I Ching' 《易經》) in its present form. A highly respected figure in the eyes of Confucius himself, he was later venerated by Confucianists, and had a profound influence on Confucian philosophy. The Duke of Zhou is also credited with writing or compiling the Er Ya dictionary, so he also has a direct connection to the history and literature tea; See Chapter 7 of Lu Yu’s Classic of Tea.

Confucius (Kong Zi 孔子), or Master Kong (551-479 BCE), was a famous philosopher and educator during the Spring and Autumn period in China. His proper name was Kong Qiu 孔丘; and his refined name was Zhong Ni 仲尼. He was from the state of Lu 魯國. He was perhaps the most influential philosopher of China, and also the founder of Confucian school of philosophy 儒家. He wrote the Analects (Lun Yu) 《 論語 》; added appendices to the Book of Changes (Zhou Yi) 《周易》; and wrote or revised many other classical texts. Confucius wrote much about propriety and etiquette,and is an important figure in the Book of Rites (Li Ji) 《禮記》, where many of his teachings are found.


corax said...

NOTE: warren has just left north america for china, where the reading of blogs is difficult and indeed usually impossible. please feel free to leave comments and queries here, but then you will have to be patient, while i forward them to warren via email for his response. -- corax

Jason Walker said...

What do we know of why Yi Mok wrote his works? Was he passing his teachings to a monastery, or a patriarch? Just curious to understand who was wanting/appreciating these teachings.

corax said...

warren responds [from china, via email]:

'This is the best answer I can give:

First, you have to understand, I am coming from a background of Chinese language studies. What information there might be of Yi Mok in Korean, I don’t have access to. Therefore, my interpretations tend to weigh more toward Chinese understanding. And I haven’t been able to find much of a biography of Hanjae in Chinese yet.

I cannot say for certain whom his intended audience was. But from the content of his literary work, we know the subject matter covered is quite broad and extensive. It is primarily a tea text, containing a list of tea words and names; a survey of soils and locations suitable for tea cultivation; a study of mountain radical characters and their connection to tea; an examination of tea leaf growth; etc. At that same time, the text is philosophical in tone, but not a philosophy text per se. He lists Six Virtues of Tea; which seems to serve as a public notice to the individual and implied societal benefits of drinking tea. So he seems to extol the public good of drinking tea.

Whoever his audience was, I’m sure Hanjae’s work was warmly received and enjoyed; because it is so well written. And for us today, it serves as another interesting literary gem to aid in our study and understanding of tea.'