Jun 25, 2008

Who is the best teacher?

Sono michi ni iran to omou kokoro koso waga mi nagara no shisho nari keri
“The very heart which decides to enter the Way is the best teacher.”
Rikyu left us with 100 poems to study the way of tea. This was the first poem of Rikyu’s that I learned. Some people look and look for the best teacher. They look at credentials, they look a personality and teaching style, one that suits their learning style and makes them feel comfortable. I didn’t know that you could choose your teacher. I thought that whatever teacher you found or found you, that was the way it was supposed to be.

When I went to Japan, Mori sensei, one of the teachers at Urasenke, read us this poem and told us that we, in fact were our own best teachers. She said there is nothing to teach us. All we can do is point to the moon. To learn chanoyu, you must seek for yourself. If you have a strong will, you will learn.

I have had students who wanted me to make them tea masters just for showing up at class and argued with me about the “right” way to teach them. I have had students who are so eager to learn that they research and practice on their own. I find that students will only learn as much as they want, no matter how I strive as a teacher. The student must be motivated to learn on his own, have the discipline to work through the tough parts of the learning and desire to become better and know more.

Literally translated, sensei means “one who one who has gone before.” My sensei said to me, “When I am teaching you, I will show you what I know.”


  1. In this way Chanoyu is like Zen, and Zen, Chanoyu.

    To know Zen you must first know yourself and to know yourself is to know nothing.

    If you do not even know yourself you will not even begin to understand the Way of Tea and Zen.

    One always enjoys this blog and its posts.


  2. Welcome Matt and thank you for visiting and commenting.

    There is a saying "Zen cha ichi mi"
    Zen and Tea one taste.

    I know very little about Zen, so I hope you visit often and can provide insight on what ever you like.

    I will always respond.