Jul 8, 2010

Chado in the real world

I love to enter the tea room, view the scroll and flowers and smell the incense.   The tea room is a safe place where the rules of etiquette ensure that everyone knows what is coming and how to conduct themselves. We are among people who share the ideals of wa, kei, sei and jaku.  This is the world of tea. 

And yet, there is this duality.   My life in tea, or my life when not doing tea.  Which is the real world?  Sometimes it feels like the tea room is more real than the rest of my life where I worry about finances, conflicts at work, my family, shopping and many other things.In the tea room, I am only concerned with making good tea, concern for my guests and doing my best. 

For many years, I had to drive across town after work to attend tea class.   Right in the middle of the most awful traffic is when I'd be on the freeway driving to sensei's house. Sometimes it took me more than two hours to get there and I dreaded making the trip.  By the time I got to class I was late, frustrated and distracted.  One night I noticed on my way home that every time I went to tea class, I was very happy driving home.  Most of the time, traffic was very light, but sometimes it was just as bad as when I went to class. It didn't matter, I was very happy driving home.  

Sensei says "Wa, kei, sei, jaku are easy in the tea room."  That is what she was training me in.  The hard part was taking wa, kei, sei, jaku with you when you left.  When we begin to take the way of tea seriously, something changes in our lives. We want to share the experience we have in the tea room with others.  I noticed in my own life how I began to clean up after myself, even though I had been rather a slob growing up.  I started to empty my house of things, talked softer and lost my temper less.   My husband said that tea had ceased to be a hobby with me and became a lifestyle.

The Urasenke Creed begins:

We are sincerely learning the essence of Chado and practice to put it into our daily lives. We continually reflect upon ourselves to attain this end.  In accepting a bowl of tea, we shall be grateful for the kindness of others and always mindful of mutual consideration.  We shall communicate the virtues of Chado through our own example:

  1. We shall consider others first.
  2. We are a family and Iemoto is our parent.  All who enter his gate to learn Chado are brothers.  As we are one in spirit, we shall respect all we meet.
  3. As we advance along the Way of Tea, we shall always keep the spirit of the the beginner.
  4. With a sincere and generous heart, we shall work together to cultivate ourselves to illuminate the world in which we live.


  1. thank you for this wisdom.

  2. Funny! I experience a similar feeling on my drive to and from tea class. I feel stressed and eager to arrive on time or early. The lamps seem to take forever to turn green and I try to pass as many cars as legally possible.
    On the way home, however, I feel more relaxed and don't mind waiting at traffic lights. Traffic is more congested, but rude drivers can't take away my happiness.
    A positive attitude is everything!

  3. Steph,
    Thank you for your comment. I want to share tea with everyone.

    Thank you too for your comment. And yes, how you look as things changes how they are for you. I learned to use my time driving to class as my meditation time, and my alone time. Zazen while driving!