Feb 13, 2009

In the winter suggest warmth

Some things come along to remind me how easy and comfortable my life really is. Yesterday, the house where I teach the furnace went out, as in it didn’t work. When I arrived in the afternoon to set up the mizuya and clean the tea room, it was about 40ºF (5ºC), a little above the outside temperature. I immediately turned on the thermostat to start the furnace as I usually do. No sound of it starting up and no heat.

I began to set up the mizuya, putting on the water to boil, and cleaned the tea room. That warmed me up a little, but still no heat. I closed the shoji doors to the tea room and started the little electric element in the ro. Still no heat. I put the kama on, filled the natsume and began to make sweets. Still no heat. I lit a candle in the tea room and hung the scroll, arranged the flowers and lit some incense.

By the time the first student arrived, it seemed to warm up a little from the boiling water and my moving around rather energetically. But still no heat. We did zazen for about 10 minutes and then began to set up for the lesson. By now it was obvious that there was not going to be heat for the evening lessons.

We proceeded with the day’s lessons and learned lessons on how to project through your spirit and personality how to suggest warmth. The guests sat closer together on the tatami and the host drew attention to the steam from the kettle rose that in such beautiful clouds, guests lingered over bowls of tea, stories were exchanged to take guests minds off the cold. The host offered extra bowls of tea or hot water. As the guests left the tea room, they remarked on how much warmer the tea room was from the hallway just outside.

From the seven rules of Rikyu – “In the summer suggest coolness, in the winter warmth.”

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