The ‘Go Drink Tea’ Koan (‘吃茶去’的公案)


What is Zen?
What is not Zen?
Why need ask?
Go drink tea!

《赵州禅师语录》: 师问二新到:’上座曾到此间否?’ 云:’不曾到。’ 师云:’吃茶去。’

From ‘Record Of Chan Master Zhaozhou’s Words’:
The Master asked two newly arrived monks
[who came from afar to enquire on what ‘Chan’ (Zen) is],
‘Has the senior been here before?’
He said, ‘I’ve not been here before.’
The Master said, ‘Go drink tea.’

又问那一人:’曾到此间否?’ 云:’曾到。’ 师云:’吃茶去。’

Again asking the other monk,
‘Have you been here before?’
He replied, ‘I’ve been here before.’
The Master said, ‘Go drink tea.’

院主问:’和尚! 不曾到,教伊吃茶去,即且置;曾到,为什么教伊吃茶去?’

The Supervisor asked, ‘Master!
For the one who had not been here before, you instructed him to go drink tea, furthermore;
for the one who had been here, why did you instruct him to go drink tea?’

师云:’院主!’ 院主应诺。师云:’吃茶去。’

The Master said, ‘Supervisor!’
The Supervisor answered, ‘Yes?’
The Master said, ‘Go drink tea.’


Why did the Master instruct the first monk to go drink tea?
Why did the Master instruct the second monk to go drink tea?
Why did the Master also instruct the Supervisor to go drink tea?
Why do you not instruct yourself to go drink tea?

(Perhaps the master just thought they could all do with some tea, regardless of whether they were there before or not, since they came a long way. And he asked whether they were ever there simply because he wanted to know. Even the Supervisor could do with a sip. What is Zen? When thirsty, drink. It is to do the right thing at the right time, including inviting someone to drink tea.)


  • sending the student monks off to drink tea because they still cling on to time and space when replying the master’s question. in zen practices,there should not have a subject and object concepts. (D)

  • I would say:

    Tea is for drinking. There’s no need to prod it for understanding. It doesn’t need to be more than what it is.

    There’s no knowledge beyond direct experience that isn’t a castle built on sand(a construct defined by a limited worldview).

    So, Zen is going and drinking tea, which is for drinking. Just be.

    You are for experiencing and there’s no need to prod yourself for understanding.

    You are already it. Let go. Just be.

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