Aug 27, 2008

Something old is something new

In the Urasenke curriculum there are more than 70 temae or procedures for making tea, depending on the formality, season, the rank of your guests, and many other factors. There are also informal procedures that are taught, for example, using a leaf in the summer time instead of a lacquered lid for the cold water jar. And there are training group training exercises where students draw lots to find out who will make tea and who will drink tea.

While this may sound intimidating to the new student, each procedure builds on the previous one so going through the curriculum takes time. For people who master skills easily, there is always a new procedure to learn.

Part of why I like the many procedures is that when I choose to put on a chakai or tea gathering, I can choose a different one each time, and keep the guests interested. The other reason that I like so many procedures is that each time I learn a new one, I feel like a beginner again. Even when I revisit a procedure that I haven’t practiced in a while, I have to learn it all over again. This feeling like a beginner keeps chado fresh for me.

Keeping chado fresh helps me to understand what my students go through when learning it for the first time. Though many people like the feeling of mastery, it also can get boring after awhile. Learning something new challenges me and keeps me interested.

In the creed we also say “As we diligently learn the Way, at the same time, we shall not forget the humble but eager heart of the beginner.”

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