Friday, September 07, 2007

Chado and Tea Ceremony lecture/demo - New Delhi

Under the auspices of the Japanese embassy a tea ceremony has been organised at JNU in New Delhi. However what I found very interesting is a very nice write up and background about Chado reproduced below. This is a must for everyone at least once!

This is being presented by 15th Urasenke Grand Master Dr.Hounsai Genshitsu Sen of the renowned Urasenke Tea School of Japan. Editor

Tea is known to people worldwide, but nowhere has it contributed as much to the cultural milieu as in Japan, where the preparation and drinking of tea, in a special form called Matcha (powdered green tea blended with hot water), became the basis for a profound spiritual and aesthetic discipline that has had a pervasive impact on Japanese civilization.

In the 16th century, Sen Rikyu (1522-1591) transformed the activity of preparing, serving, and receiving tea into a comprehensive discipline, establishing the foundations for Chado, the Way of Tea. Chado is known as the most representative form of spiritual culture of Japan. The Urasenke Chado tradition has stood firmly by the principles of Harmony, Respect, Purity, and Tranquility for over four centuries since Sen Rikyu’s time. Dr. Hounsai Genshitsu Sen, the father of current Urasenke Grand Master, Zabosai Soshitsu Sen XVI, was Urasenke Grand Master for 38 years (1964-2002) and is widely known as a global-minded promoter of the culture embraced by Chado and of world peace. He has traveled abroad on more than 250 occasions to spread the peaceful ideals represented in Chado. Since September, 2005, he has been serving as Japan-U.N. Goodwill Ambassador, a position he was appointed to by the Japanese Government.


The underlying philosophy of chado is summarized in the four words, Wa, Kei, Sei, and Jaku.

Wa means “harmony”. This is a feeling of being in accord with nature and other people. At a tea gathering, there should be harmony between host and guest, guest and guest, mood and season, the food served and utensils used. Sensitivity to the changing rhythms of the seasons and harmony with these changes pervades the Way of Tea. This harmony with nature quietly leads one to an understanding of the evanescence of all things and the unchanging in the changing.

Kei means “respect”. Respect, resulting from a feeling of gratitude, is extended not only to people but also to objects. The etiquette observed in the tearoom helps one to learn to apply the principle of Kei in one’s daily life. The hospitality of the host, the concern of the guests for the host and for each other, and the careful handling of the utensils exemplify this Kei.

Sei means “purity” Cleanliness and orderliness, in both the physical and spiritual sense, are very important parts of the discipline of chado. In the practice of chado, when the host purifies the tea utensils, he is simultaneously purifying his heart and mind. The guests, before entering the tea house, rinse their hands and wash out their mouths at a low stone water-basin, thereby symbolically purifying themselves.

Jaku means “tranquility”. This can be said to refer to a state of imperturbability. Nobody has the power to foretell what circumstances the future will bring. What we all can and should do, however, is develop our inner resources so that we can meet any situation calmly. We should learn to prepare beforehand for whatever we can conceive may happen, and this will provide us with spiritual fortitude.

Constantly practicing these four principles, whether in the tearoom or not, will increase one’s spiritual awareness and help one to find inner peace.

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