Feb 1, 2009

Chado, a way of life

One of my sensei in Japan once said that Chado becomes the yardstick with which you measure your life. I didn’t know what he meant by that, and to be sure it is like the scrolls in the alcove – the meaning of the words are much deeper than the words appear on the surface.

Over the many years of study, Chado has changed my life. Every time I step into the tea room, I learn something new. As I learn more about the way of tea, the more I learn how I am in the world. The tea room is a microcosm of life and how I behave there often translate to how I behave outside the tea room. The form and etiquette of tea are often seen as empty gestures, yet some of the enforced politeness pays off as I unconsciously incorporated politeness, respect and thinking of others in my everyday life.

Before I started to study Chado, I had a very short attention span. Anything new or shiny took me off course and I had trouble finishing any project, job or chore. Even moment by moment, I had trouble staying on task. Eventually, I found myself focusing more and more until the job was done.

My years of cleaning and cleaning the tea room and mizuya have trained me to do the same thing in my home. I used to be such a slob. Now, I cannot cook in a kitchen until I have cleaned everything up. I never used to make my bed in the morning and now I do.

While some people see Chado as irrelevant and tradition bound, there are benefits that are applicable to everyday life. As my husband says, “After a while, studying tea goes beyond a hobby and becomes a lifestyle.”

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