Aug 21, 2009

Japanese words as prizes

I have finally decided what I will be offering for prizes for the contest in honor of the 250th blog post at SweetPersimmon. Thank you all to the regular readers, all of my sensei and sempai, students of Chado and those who have only a passing interest. You have made this blog experience rewarding.

Prize number 1 will be a CD of Japanese for the tea room. It features an explanation in English the basics of Japanese pronunciation and very basic Japanese grammar. It also has the dialog for usucha, usucha haiken, koicha, and koicha haiken. The dialog includes the English translation and then the Japanese slowly twice, then again at normal speed. The final part is the dialog for aisatsu before and after study.

Prize number 2 will be a copy of Michael Soei Birch's120 page manuscript, "An Anthology of the Seasonal Feeling in Chanoyu. This is a workbook, compiled by Michael Birch and written in English and romanji. It is filled with all kinds of information and it is a good source for seasonal gomei, or poetic names. The manuscript is divided into the four seasons -- Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter with information about each. It is further divided into each month that includes information about the month, perhaps haiku, appropriate scrolls, seasonal words and suggested gomei. It is illustrated throughout with Michael's calligraphy so you can see the kanji for each word, scroll, phrase or haiku.
Here are a few sample pages:The contest eligibility and the rules
Okay, to be eligible for the prizes (there will be two winners, one prize each) there are a few things you have to do. First, if you have a blog, please link it to this blog. I will also link to your blog in return. Second, you need to post a comment to this post. Not just any comment, but you need to answer two questions.

First question: How did you learn about chado and why are you studying? If you are not studying, what do you find interesting about the SweetPersimmmon blog?

Second question: How much of the traditional Japanese teaching methods do you think need to be incorporated in learning Chado outside of Japan? For those not studying, what do you think the best way would be to learn something like the Japanese tea ceremony?

I do ship internationally so everyone can participate. Please leave me a way to contact you to inform you if you have won.

The contest remains open until midnight PDT August 31st 2009. That's 10 days folks, to get your answers together and compose your answers. Winners will be chosen randomly. All decisions final. Prizes will ship by September 2. Good luck!

Aug 11, 2009

What do you love?

It is not often that we give ourselves permission to love, or let alone talk about the things we love. These days it is hip and cool to be cynical and make fun of others who are too emotional. Someone told me once that I needed to take a look at where I was spending my money, because there also was my heart.

These days, I spend my heart on chado, my husband, my grandchildren, my students, and sewing. Besides the essentials of food and shelter, there also I spend my money. Since leaving the corporate world, I have pared down my lifestyle to fit my considerably reduced income and I could not be happier.

Just as wabi used to mean to be disappointed by failing in some enterprise or living a miserable and poverty stricken life, some of my former associates would look at my present life and think that I am miserable. But wabi also means to transform material insufficiency so that one discovers in it a world of spiritual freedom.

Right now, I have never been more joyful in my life. Everyday is a good day. I feel aligned in living my values and in the integrity of what I do. I feel grateful for the opportunity to live this life. I love what I do, I love my life and I love to share with others some of the things I've learned through chado.

What do you love?

Aug 5, 2009

The rules

I have talked with many people who don't like rules. These people think that too many rules in tea restrict them and don't allow them to be free to do as they please. But think if nobody driving on the road ignored the rules and just did as they please. The rules of the road such as staying on the right hand side of the road protect everyone and keep them safe. Or think of the rules of a game, if everybody just did as they pleased, then the game would be no fun.

The rules set boundaries, and in the tea room, everyone knows what to expect. There are appropriate times to talk and listen. There are rules for the role of the host and for that of the guest. The etiquette works if everyone is playing by the same rules. That is why it is so important to learn to be a good guest.

Remember that tea was developed in 16th century Japan, when there was incredible conflict and civil war. It was nearly a relief to be in the tea room, free from the conflict. If everyone observed the rules, people -- for a short time -- could get along, everyone would be safe and they could enjoy themselves.

Once the rules are ingrained into your consciousness, it actually frees your mind to be able to pay attention to other things, like the comfort of your guests, or creating that unique experience together. Communication occurs at a deeper level, and being present and open to profound insights can all happen in the rule restricted environment of the tea room. Amazing!

Coming up soon. In honor of my 250th blog post, I will be having a blog contest giveaway for those of you who are faithful readers. In order to qualify for the giveaway, you will have to leave a comment. More details will be posted shortly.