Apr 21, 2010

The heart of tea

Rikyu says:
The very heart which wants to enter the Way is the best teacher.

Sensei says:
Beginning teachers want to teach the heart of tea and lecture about it.  This is virtually impossible to do.  Don't get trapped into a romantic notion of tea .  You cannot define it for others.  Temae teaches the heart of tea itself. It is in the movement we discover ourselves.  You can't think your way there, you must use your body.

I sometimes have beginning students who are adverse to doing temae over and over again.   They think that if they have seen it a couple of times and done one or two, that they have learned it and want to go on to the next thing.  The thing is that they cannot remember the order of it unless I prompt them.  If they had to do it on their own, they would be lost. 

Recently a few of my students assisted me in a presentation of Chanoyu.  I was doing the explanation and one student was guest and the other host.   It was one of the first times that they both had to do everything on their own, and they learned so much by doing it without me to help them.   One student said it was like doing tea without a net -- scary and exhilarating at the same time. But they both said that they learned so much from just doing it.  

Some people say that tea is moving meditation.  If you can make tea according to the procedures without getting bored or sloppy and still remain aware of your surroundings and your guests, then you will have found the heart of tea.


  1. The music analogy always works well. Even if they've heard a given piece of music dozens of times, no serious musician would think they'd mastered it after playing it only a handful of times, especially if they only had a few years' experience with their instrument, and even more so if they were going to be performing that piece.

  2. Nick,
    Thank you for the comment. I like the music analogy,too.

    I like that sensei said to not get trapped into a romantic notion of tea. It is what it is, heating water, making tea.

  3. P.S. You could tag this as one of the Rikyu Hyakushu!