Cha Dao, The Way of Tea: A Meditation and Tea Retreat with Wu De
About This Event
As the leaves of this tree are, I too am made of the water, the sky, sun and stars;
I share this essence with all the Ten-thousand Things. And in so doing, empty myself and my cup. As tea, I am now free to transcend the moment, Finding heaven in a leaf. — Wu De
For more than a decade, Wu De (born Aaron Fisher) has taught the ancient practice of tea ceremony from a Zen and tea center in Taiwan known as Tea Sage Hut. Now he’s bringing The Way of Tea to Esalen. “When we drink tea in a sacred ceremonial space, we can feel that we are a part of the nature that gave us the tea, while it streams into us and becomes our body, mind and soul,” says Wu De.
Together we’ll delve into the ancient tradition of Cha Dao uniting awareness and tea medicine and discover how tea can teach us mindfulness in our daily lives. Each day will begin with a morning meditation and then a shared tea ceremony. In discussions and group practices, Wu De will explore tea as a great connector that brings calm joy and presence, while also providing guidance for participants about how to start and deepen their own personal bowl tea practice. Meditation sits will be scheduled throughout the day and to wrap up our evenings. During the week, the group will experience different ways of bowl tea brewing while sharing unique and ancient living teas.
Recommended reading: Fisher (Wu De), The Way of Tea; Tea Medicine; and Zen and Tea One Flavor.
Venue HighlightsThe Waters: Water flows at the heart of Esalen. Three water sources converge here to form a trinity of creation, renewal, and destruction, harkening back to our own ancient origins. According to Chinese medicine and other traditions, the human emotional body is held by the water element. Perhaps that is one reason why Esalen is a safe and powerfully healing place to look within.
The Land: There is the wonder of the place itself, 120 acres of fertile land carved out between mountain and ocean, blessed by a cascading canyon stream and hot mineral springs gushing out of a seaside cliff. There is the delicate and subtle Big Sur air of a late afternoon in May, the midnight mist of July, the drenching February rain. There are October nights so clear the Milky Way can light your walk along the darkened garden path. And always there is the sound of the sea.
The Bookstore: Adjoining the lodge at the heart of property, the Conley Bookstore is a cozy book nook with benefits. It’s just the place to find the perfect book, gift, article of clothing, snack, or soundtrack to accompany your journey of self-discovery. In addition to books on topics ranging from Art to Zodiac, the store offers journals, postcards, prints, music, sundries, clothing, ceramics, and other carefully curated accoutrements to promote contemplation, relaxation, and joy.
Farm & Garden: For over forty years, the Esalen Farm and Garden has provided a holistic model of local food security and sustainability, growing organic food that sustains, heals and educates the community of people who live at and visit Esalen every year. The Esalen Farm and Garden exists in a landscape of constant transition and transformation. Our program reflects the Institute as a whole: we wear our dogmas lightly, we go with the flow, we experiment, and we constantly evolve in our practice.
The Art Center: Commonly known as the Art Barn, the Art Center is a two-storied structure with a covered patio on the ocean cliffs next to the Leonard Pavilion and the Farm. It has served as the residence for many artists over the years as well as being the birthplace for latent creativity and the source of many stories
AccommodationsA variety of accommodation options is possible with workshop registration. Since some of these fill more quickly than others, it is advisable to sign up as early as possible. Please indicate your second choice for accommodations and workshop in case your initial choice is unavailable. We cannot guarantee specific room requests.
Standard Accommodations: This is shared housing that accommodates two or three persons per room, although couples or friends traveling together who book into standard accommodations will be housed privately. In some cases, bathrooms are shared. The rates listed for standard accommodations throughout the web site are per-person. (A private/single standard accommodation must be requested and may be available on a limited basis for an additional $150 per night).
Premium Rooms offer greater privacy, upgraded bathrooms (and occasionally outdoor clawfoot bathtubs), enhanced sound, climate insulation, and in-floor heating. You can request either ocean views or internet (ethernet cable), and we do our best to honor these requests, although not all rooms offer both. Prices listed throughout the website may reflect either single or double occupancy.
Point Houses are private suites nestled behind the Esalen Garden and perched at the cliff's edge with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. Each of the three Point Houses offers a living room with wood stove, a master bedroom, a sleeping loft, full kitchen and dining area, private redwood deck overlooking the Pacific with outdoor claw foot tub, Internet connections, and in-room telephone.
Bunk Bed Rooms: Bunk beds are available for seminar participants who are willing to share a room with four to six persons of the same gender. Limited in number, these spaces are reserved on a first-come, first-served basis.
Off-site Accommodations: If you are staying outside Esalen, meals and unlimited use of the property’s facilities are included while you are registered for your workshop.
Sleeping bags: Some of our meeting rooms are sometimes used as shared sleeping bag space and may be available for workshop participants with limited financial means. There is a 7-day limit on sleeping bag stays. Should you choose sleeping bag accommodations, you are responsible for bringing your own sleeping bag, blankets, pads, pillows, etc. Esalen provides towels and face cloths. Some rooms do not include a shower, though shower facilities are available at the baths. The meeting room is a public space where Esalen activities, scheduled and unscheduled, take place. Thus, the room is inaccessible between 9 am and 11 pm. Access to the room is not permitted while these activities are in process. Sleeping bag accommodations are coed, and several people may share a relatively small space. You may want to bring earplugs if you are a light sleeper or bothered by the sleep sounds of others.
All camping or sleeping on the grounds, either in tents, campers, or vehicles of any type is strictly prohibited. We do not have parking space to accommodate RVs.
- Hot Tub
- Yoga Studio
- House Keeping
- Dairy Free
Menu/CuisineWhether after a rigorous workshop session or a long soak in the hot springs, a meal among friends in our lodge is surely one of the most nourishing and enlivening Esalen adventures.
The Esalen kitchen serves delicious, healthy meals to 250 to 350 people per day. This includes everyone from workshop participants and teachers to Esalen board members and staff. The kitchen team crafts each meal with mindfulness and care, featuring produce and herbs from the Esalen farm and garden.
Breakfast: 8:30 - 9:45 am
Lunch: 12:30 - 1:45 pm
Dinner: 6:00 - 7:30 pm
Coffee, tea, house-made bread for toast, preserves, nut butters, and fresh fruit are available all day and night until 5AM.
Volunteering in the Kitchen
On-site guests are always welcome to volunteer in the kitchen, stop in and ask for the chef if you are interested in volunteering during your stay.