Sep 19, 2007

Clean up your own mess

Your mom probably told you to do this as a kid. As an adult and a tea student, we know that we cannot depend on anyone else to clean up our messes. My sensei used to say that 80% of tea is cleaning. We clean before and after using the tea room. We clean when changing seasons, we clean as moving meditation.

The preparation room (the mizuya) is supposed to be as clean as or cleaner than the tea room. During class time, all students at my tea school are required to prepare and clean up the utensils that they use for class. I teach preparation and cleaning up and what to do in the mizuya as part of learning the art of tea.

There is a person in charge of the mizuya called the cho. The cho is there to make sure everything is handled properly and to be responsible for everything that goes on in the mizuya. The cho is not there to clean up after anyone else, but if a student doesn’t clean up their utensils then the cho has to do it. Since every student has a chance to be the cho, there is incentive not to make work for anyone else.

But cleaning up your own mess pertains to life as well. It is personal responsibility. And it is not just the physical mess you make that you need to clean up, but your financial, or social or relationship mess as well.

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