Feb 11, 2011

Starting Over

Sometimes we stop going to class for different reasons.  Jobs change, moving, heatlth reasons,  family obligations.  And sometimes we just need a break.  Coming back to class, it seems like we have to start all over agian.   Classmates have progressed while you were away; your body doesn't obey, and you have forgotten even the most basic moves.It can be intimidating and discouraging. 

A friend of mine has recently returned to the Pacific NW after six years on the East Coast. He left to pursue a job, but there was no teacher where he lived.  Returning to tea class was a great joy to him, only there were younger students in his class that had been studying for less time than he had been away and were so far above him doing advanced temae. He felt like he was starting over at a disadvantage.

In times like these, sometimes it helps to change your perspective. The way of tea is not a competition.  Each person has his own path and lessons to learn from tea. Where you are in your studies is where you need to be. Some of the most respected chajin have only the beginning certificates. 
What really matters in Chado is not how many advanced certificates you have or whether  or not you are keeping up with your classmates. It is not how quickly you master the temae, nor how many beautiful utensils you have.collected. It doesn't matter how long you have studied or how much you know about the history of tea.  What really matters is how you conduct yourself, how you are in the world. 

In tea we value the "humble but eager heart of the beginner."  Advanced tea people try to return the state of mind of seeing and learning something for the first time, even though they have done it a thousand tiimes before.

"The practice room is where you are trained as a human, even as you are sharply scolded and hesitate to humiliate yourself in the process.  The principle aim of your training is to enable you, when the time comes, to perform tea splendidly and without shame.  This is the reason why those who pass through the entranceway of this place are prepared to endure severe discipline.  For it is in this way that they gradually develop fine characters as people."  ~ From The Spirit of Tea


  1. Thanks for a lovely reminder. This blog post gave me several things to think about. Seeing things as for the first time is a good principle.

  2. nordic lotus,
    Thank you for your comment. Many of us in midlife also are starting over, or rather starting at the beginning again.

  3. Yes, this can be a gift...it's a good lesson for me. Thank you

  4. Steph,
    Thank you for your comment. A good lesson for all of us.