Jul 8, 2011

Learning one to ten -- Rikyu Hyakushu

Keiko towa ichi yori narai ju o shiri ju yori kaeru moto no sono ichi
Practice constitutes learning from one, becoming cognizant of ten, then returning from ten to one, the beginning.
Know that when training, learn from one to ten and return from ten again to one.

This is another one of Rikyu often quoted poems.  Learning from the beginning to ten makes sense as it is a logical progression.  Returning to one again seems like going backward to us.   But when we return to the beginning again, we gain new insights, perspectives and understandings because of the journey we have taken to the top.

I very much appreciate teaching beginning students.  It takes me back to when I was a beginning student and everything was strange and unfamiliar.  There is this excitement of starting and the energy of  something new.  This state of mind is something experienced tea students strive for.  Even though we have done the temae a hundred or even a thousand times, to make it seem brand new as if we are doing it for the first time and discovering it all over again is the challenge.

Even going from advanced temae back to ryakubon, I gain something new about it.  In other words I don’t necessarily return to the beginning again, but it is more like a spiral, coming back to a similar place but deeper and more meaningful.

At every intensive, everybody, including the most advanced teachers go back to the beginning again.  We start with bowing, walking, turning and moving in the tea room, then move on to folding the fukusa and handling utensils and purifying them.  I always learn something new from these from these lessons.  These lessons that I thought I knew, or I knew and forgot, or I knew but got sloppy bad habits.

I wrote more about this in the post  The right way

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