Walking in The Way of TeaChado - The Way of Tea

The Way of Tea

By Tatu

May 2005
Images by Tatu

Grand Tea Master Sen Rikyu identified the spirit of the Way of Tea with four basic principle of

"Wa, Kei, Sei, Jaku", which mean:

"Harmony, Respect, Purity, Tranquility."

   Wa.   Harmony is made up of all the different things that make up our world. Harmony is seen in the way people act and behave among one another. It is seen in the way the oriental places great emphasis on aesthetics, the gardens, tea flowers, tea bowls, bonsai, candles, colors, aromas, etc. In a tea ceremony the participants communicate in silence with each other through every element in the setting as the host uses them to call out a sense of harmony in the tearoom. While there is never total agreement on all matters of life, we celebrate the harmony of kindred spirits. So should we celebrate the harmony of our individual bents.

 Kei.   Respect. People must respect all things, all matters without involving their status or position in life; that is, people must not judge or discriminate. In the way of tea, all participants historically crawl in a lowly position into the tearoom, all kneel and enjoy the harmony together. Without respect there is no community. This does not mean all agree, but we are willing to celebrate our uniqueness with one another without being threatened or ashamed.

 Sei.   Purity. Purifying spirits is very important since the ideal spirit of the ceremony is one where there is truth, and honesty with ones soul. To share the fullness of the moments, all participants look inward introspectively, and judge their own hearts and motives.

 Jaku..   Tranquility. Only after the first three concepts (harmony, respect, and purity) are discovered, experienced and embraced, can people finally embody tranquility. This was the teaching of Rikyu the great 16th century "Tea Master".

Walking the way in everyday  life

Walking the "way of tea" (or the "way of rope") is not easy because the way of tea is a life which people seek tranquility through harmony, respect, and purity, yet this is not the way of most in our world. For many their way is full of chaos. Many people simply just have no desire for tranquility. They are not at peace or in harmony with themselves, or anyone. Their lives are lacking purity. Their pasts are tainted with secrets, hideous shameful events for which they have never dealt successfully or tried to be honest and true with themselves or others.

How do these differences in mindsets manifest itself in our community ?

Be warned, if you are seeking the way of tranquility, there will be those with no peace who will target and test you in every way possible. Some will just become outright unscrupulous in their attempts to undermine you. You must understand you will be different, and some people don't like that.

One who follows the way of discord, greed, and may very well develop a worthless or low esteem value mindset. Or they may see superiority or inferiority of classes in their world. Some may see themselves as gods and others are doormats; not real flesh and blood with feelings and emotions, they are pieces of meat to be used. They organize their environments almost in godfather fashion. Seeking to control and manipulate with their perceived power. Often these people are not anything more than domineering jerks, trying to demand respect. Low self-esteemed individuals are attracted to this, because they feel they can get instant gratification for what they lack in character. Because of their low self-esteem they can feel it necessary to be critical and unkind to others, capable of using very destructive words and deeds. They do this because in order to make themselves feel good about themselves, they compensate for their lack of self-esteem by attempting to lift themselves up by knocking others down.

On the other hand, with a mindset dedicated to the way of tranquility, there is more likely to be a mutual love and respect at work between people and in the community. People with this mindset will not talk down about others. They see others as wonderful people, special, unique to be cherished and appreciated for their contributions. They understand the beauty and importance of what others have to offer and respond with great love and mutual respect. There may be conflict, but never given in rage or anger or fear, but with love and understanding. Respect is not demanded; it does not have to prove itself to anyone. Respect is given when others have been treated respectfully and see another as worthy of respect.

Ichi-go, Ichi-e  Each Moment, Only Once

The tea ceremony teaches us that we only have the moment once. We should life it with a purpose; living in harmony with ourselves and with others.  We should respect ourselves and offer the same to others who walk similarly.  We should continuously look inward as to the motives and issues which drive us in life. Mindful of these we find tranquility.

© 2005, Tatu