Jan 19, 2008

Everything fresh and new

As member of the information age, it is always the next thing, then the next thing, even before we master the previous thing. By the time we know something it has passed and we are on to something different. There is very little time for reflection on what we have learned because we are always keeping up with the next new thing. But how do you make something that you have done hundreds of times fresh and new? As we begin the new year of tea classes, it may seem redundant when we do things over and over again.

In the world of chanoyu we learn things with our body. They say that in order for something to become a habit, you must do it at least 30 times. How do we know where to sit down on the tatami mat so that we are exactly 16 weaves from the line? How do we know what comes next in the tea procedure that is two hours long? By training our bodies for tea procedures, it becomes second nature to us. Training our bodies takes patience. We must do it over and over again until we can do it without thinking.

Like bicycle riding, when we train our bodies, we can finally look up and see the scenery rather than concentrate on keeping our balance. With our well trained body doing tea procedures, we can free our mind and our heart to look beyond ourselves to what is happening in the tea room. We can be sensitive to our guests and communicate on many levels at once. This is what makes everything fresh and new again even though you may have done it a hundred times before.

There is a saying in chanoyu – nichi nichi arata -- every day is new. To make each tea procedure, each movement fresh and exciting as if it was the first time you were doing it takes lots and lots of practice. What a conundrum. This attitude will make your tea study more exciting for you and ultimately more exciting for your guests.

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