A String of Chinese Peach Stones

The Origin of Tea.

There was a Buddhist monk named Ta Ma [Darma, the third son of Kasiuwo, an Indian king] who came from the West to China [about 519 A.D.] to ‘ enlighten the Chinese.’ He exposed himself to every possible hardship, being self-denying in the extreme, but self-denial in the Imperial dictionary is interpreted as the mortification of the ‘ private,’ selfish, disconnected self, on behalf of the ‘ public spirit,’ the related self, which may not involve abstinence from the necessities of life. This monk, however, lived only upon the herbs of the field; and, in order to attain to the highest degree of sanctity, determined to pass his nights as well as days in contemplation of doctrine. After some time spent thus, he became so weary that he fell asleep. This lapse troubled him sorely. He did not consider that his denying the five relations of sovereign and statesman, father and son, elder and younger brother, husband and wife, friend and companion, was at all contrary to doctrine. Though this was the main point in the Memorial of Han Wen Kung [of whom more anon] against Buddhism.

On awaking the next morning he determined to expiate his vow-breaking sin by cutting off his eyelids! Returning to the place the following day, he was surprised to find that each eyelid had become a shrub, — the plant, indeed, which we now call tea. He took of the leaves and ate them, and found that as he did so’ his heart was filled with extraordinary exhilaration, and that he had acquired renewed strength for his contemplations. The event being known, his disciples spread the news far and wide.”

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