Apr 28, 2009

Return to the original one again

keiko to wa ichi yori narai ju wo shiri ju yori keru moto no sono ichi

In training for chanoyu, you go from one to ten and return to the original one again.

This is from one of Rikyu’s 100 poems. Next week we will close the ro and begin the summer season for chanoyu. Before we begin the furo season, all the classes will review the basics again. We will learn how to walk in the tea room, how and when to bow. We will review folding the fukusa and purify the tea utensils and correct bad habits that we have acquired along the way.

When I went to Japan to study tea, even though I had 15 years of tea training, they began teaching us how to walk and bow. The sensei assumed you knew nothing and started everyone at the beginning, no matter how long you had studied. One sensei said that I had accumulated many bad habits and I needed to go back to the beginning. At first I was rather put out by what I thought was wasting time, until I found out that at every koshukai (intensive training workshop), they taught the basics to everyone, even teachers of more than 20 years’ experience. They call this warigeiko.

Even though we go back to the beginning, it really is not the beginning because we have some experience of what it is like to study. I like to think of it as a spiral. Each time you come back to the beginning, you go deeper and learn more about yourself, your temae and your relationships. Just like the seasons come around again, it is different every year. This spring is not like last spring, nor the spring before that.

So next week, bring your fukusa basami, chakin, chasen, chashaku. Be prepared for warigeiko, back to the orginial one again.