Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The essentials: 7. Care about the guests

The ancient tea master, Rikyu once said “Care about the guests”.  This is one of the seven essentials of The Way of Tea, which I introduced on the previous entry.

I think this is the most important lesson among the seven.  You can feel the spirit of caring for others in the movements and gestures in the tea ceremony.  This is not only the host’s responsibly, but also the guests’.  Thus, everybody in the ceremony is expected to show care to each other. 

For example, when the host hands out the tea to guests, he turns the tea bowl, and makes sure that its front side is facing the guest.  This is an act of being caring.   Before drinking, that guest bows to the guest(s) next to him as a sign of respect, or sometimes to ask that guest if he wants another round.  The greetings to each other strengthen the bond among the guests.  Then, the guest turns the bowl to avoid drinking tea from its front, which is the crucial part of a bowl.  Those courtesies shown to and by each participant make the ceremony heartwarming and meaningful

I think the other six essentials are all based on this lesson.  “Preparing the tea just right” and “Doing things ahead of time” should be considered for the other participants, as well.  Without the spirit of caring for others, the tea ceremony won’t mean anything; it is going to be just a tea drinking event.   That is why I consider this lesson the most important.

My interpretation of Rikyu’s “Care about the guests” is that
Consideration to others is important.

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