Jan 14, 2008

Do Gaku Jitsu

Do Gaku Jitsu
When I first went to study chanoyu in Kyoto there were three large kanji at the entrance to the second floor classrooms where we had our lectures. They were: Do – Gaku – Jitsu, At my first opportunity, I asked Mori sensei what these three words meant and why they were important.

She said that to study Chado, it is not a thing to learn from teachers. The things that you seek are already in you and that you must discover them for yourself. Sensei are there to point the way, but how you progress with tea is up to you, not the teacher. They can only open doors and expose students to the many, many aspects of Chado. The way of tea is a process of self-discovery about yourself, the world around you and how you are in the world.

Unlike modern American education, in Chado, the students are expected to take an active part in their learning. This doesn’t mean that students tell their sensei when they are ready to advance to the next level, the next procedure or the next certification. Chado is not the procedure for making tea, though oftentimes that seems to be the emphasis in teaching. Chado is not what level of certification you attain as some of the most respected tea people have never gotten beyond the first licenses.

For students to learn Chado, the three kanji are a guide. Do is the way, the path, the spiritual philosophy. To follow the path of tea (Cha-do) one uses the way of tea and all its lessons as a measure of life. It is a way of doing and thinking and approaching life. Without the practical discipline and the study of knowledge, you cannot reach the way.

Gaku is the study of the knowledge of tea: the facts. It is the learning you can get from others who have gone before you. This includes the rich history and literature, the study of utensils, famous tea men, poetry, calligraphy, the seasonal aspects, drama, the lineage of the Urasenke family, and much more. With the internet there are so many resources now, from museums to literary translations to articles and blogs such as this one.

Jitsu is the practice of tea. That includes but is not limited to learning the temae or procedures for making tea. It is also the practice of wa-harmony, kei-respect, sei-purity and jaku-tranquility. These principles are easier in the tea room when we make a conscious effort to embody these principles. But they can also be put into practice in everyday life. Harmony in the office? Respect for your kids? Cleaning up your messes both physically and in your relationships? Bringing calmness in emotional situations?

The guide for Chado, the way of tea – Do, Gaku, Jitsu — the way, the knowledge, the practice.

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