May 10, 2008

Everything’s important, nothing really matters

Long ago my friend Max gave me a shikishi – a poem card you can hang in the alcove of the tea room with this saying and it really tells us what the seeming contradictions are in studying the way of tea.

We learn and train hard to master the smallest details. Learning again how to walk, sit, get up, and arrange flowers, follow etiquette and clean properly. We learn and train to master the order of tea procedures. We train to prepare for the real tea every time we make tea. We train to be aware and sensitive to our guests and their needs. We learn to incorporate the seasons, study history and literature, gardening, architecture, craftsmanship and aesthetics. All these things and more inform our understanding of the way of tea.

And yet, none of it really matters. We just need to be present and sincerely make a good bowl of tea.

I’ll be out of town for a few days. The retired Grand Tea Master of Uranseke, Dr. Genshitsu Sen from Japan will be in Seattle for a number of both private and public events. I’ll be in the mizyua whisking tea.


  1. I would like to see the shikishi you refer to.

    Whisk well, but if you make mistakes - make them beautifully.


  2. Another insightful post!

    I appreciate your efforts.

    Have fun in Seattle,

  3. Wow! Beautiful!
    Margie sensei, gambatte, ne! :))