Temple water

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As I was wandering around the area while wrapping myself in the precious sunny days of Taiwanese winter, I recently came across Húshān Temple 湖山寺 (Dòuliù Township 斗六市) and its nearby water station, conveniently located around 30 minutes from where I am currently staying, and from which local tea drinkers – among others – are diligently getting their water from.

Built in 1725 during the reign of Emperor Yōngzhèng 雍正 from the Qing Dynasty, Húshān Temple 湖山寺 is the home of multiple statues of Guānyīn 觀音 (the main worshipped Bodhisattva on the premises), that shine through the surrounding vegetation, with its main landmark being a 150 m tall golden statue of Maitreya seating on the nearby hilltop. The temple saw several expansions during the Japanese occupation as well as under the Republic of China’s government, and was later modified on multiple occasions to reflect its current architecture.

Open to the public since 1983, the Yánshān 岩山 station located nearby draws its water from a neighboring lake, going through a RO filtration system before being offered in a self-service fashion to the customers at a generous ‘Buddha’ price. Although the water is not being remineralized or its pH rebalanced afterwards – which may or may not be problematic depending on one’s tea practice, aspirations, and perspective – the easy access to clean water and the respectable, selfless intention stemming from this initiative call for a sentiment of gratitude.

As my past, multiple adventures to fetch water for tea in the forest back home humbly taught me, all students of tea are bound to be students of water – the sacred, invaluable element carrying Life, and that is alas, intentionally or unintentionally, easily overlooked, mistreated, misunderstood, or unappreciated. As one’s tea journey evolves and matures, tending water and its flowing, altruistic essence naturally leads to the emergence of a guide that helps to anchor their tea practice at the appropriate place and time, where the universal, expressive beauty of water is able to freely reveal its true color.

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