Jul 22, 2011

Looking and studying -- Rikyu hyakushu

naraitsutsu mitekoso narae narawazu ni yoshiashi iu wa oroka narikeri
One learns by looking and studying. Without understanding completely one cannot criticize.
In the learning process, watch and learn.  Voicing opinions without having done this is foolishness.

Learning the way of tea is difficult.  At first, many things just don't make sense, everything is strange and it seems like you cannot control your own body in the tea room.  In a situation like this it is best to observe and get the lay of the land.

When I was in Midorikai, in orientation on the first day, Mori sensei advised us that the key to learning chado in Kyoto was sunao no kokoro 直の心. This means an open heart, ready to just accept anything from anyone. People in Kyoto lived and breathed they way of tea and just about everyone there knew more about tea than we did, even if we had studied at home for 25 years.  If I resisted, justified, offered excuses or complained, people were not likely to share their knowledge. He told me there were vast riches there about the way of tea, but I would have to become sunao. He said that sunao meant open without resistance, to take in everything as part of my training. To explain, offer excuse, or justify myself showed that I was not open but resisting the learning. I wrote more about this in the post Just say hai.

Criticizing is just a way to resist what is being taught.  So is arguing and disagreeing with the teacher.  Mori sensei said to just experience whatever the learning is, then reflect upon it later.  You will come upon insights and grasp not only what the teacher was trying to convey, but also the lessons that you were meant to learn.


  1. Thank you for your insight.

    Your words of wisdom have caused me to sit back, reflect and reevaluate my thinking and actions. It has also given me a better understanding of an enigma that is part of the Japanese culture.

    The way of change is not always easy, sometimes seemingly foreign, but essential to growth.

    Domo arigato gozaimashita.

  2. Flightofantasy,
    Thank you for your comment. It is an immense pleasure to know that what I have written has given someone pause, let alone reflect and reevaluate thinking and actions. If what I say, write or show by my actions promotes more understanding between people and cultures, than I am indeed furthering the vision, "chi wan kara peacefulness" or "peace through a bowl of tea." Every little bit helps.

    Thank you,