Jul 29, 2007

Give those with whom you find yourself every consideration

The role of the host and the guest in tea are clearly defined. That the host will give his guests every consideration is a given, but also the guest must give his host the same thing. That is why the guest role is taught as seriously as the host role when learning the way of tea. This teaching of Rikyu goes beyond the host and the guest in the tea room. He says to give those with whom you find yourself. No matter where you go and what you do, those with whom you find yourself you must give them every consideration. It is very much the golden rule – treat others as you would be treated yourself.

Easy to say, hard to do. With the modern technology it is so easy to ignore those with whom we find ourselves. How many times have I interrupted someone I was with and taken a mobile phone call and ignored the person in front of me? What about at an unavoidable meeting with people I barely know or don’t particularly like? How we treat other people is a measure of how we view ourselves.

“First you must make a delicious bowl of tea; lay the charcoal so the water boils; arrange the flowers as they are in the field; in the summer suggest coolness, in the winter, warmth; do everything ahead of time; prepare for rain; and give those with whom you find yourself every consideration.” If you can do these well then surely the great tea master Rikyu would become your student. These teachings are just as relevant today in the modern world as they were in the 16th century tea room and we can put them to practice in our daily lives.

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