The Principles of Chanoyu: Wa Kei Sei Jaku

Chanoyu, the Japanese tea ceremony, is not just about enjoying a cup of tea, but it is also a way of life. The principles of Chanoyu are rooted in the teachings of Sen Rikyu, a renowned tea master from the sixteenth century. The four principles of Chanoyu are Wa Kei Sei Jaku, which translates to harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility. These principles are not only applicable to the tea ceremony but can also be integrated into everyday life to achieve a sense of inner peace and harmony.

Harmony (Wa)

Harmony is the ultimate goal for human beings. It involves the positive interaction between the host and the guest in a tea gathering or among people in any situation in life. In the tea ceremony, the sharing of tea between the host and the guest is an act of harmony. This principle extends to nature and tangible objects such as tea utensils, everyday utensils, and life itself. True harmony brings peace to oneself and others.

Respect (Kei)

Respect is the ability to understand and accept others, even those with whom we may disagree. When we are kind to others and can humble ourselves, we can receive respect. In the tea ceremony, the host thinks of the guest and the guest of the host. It is this continued sharing and consideration that makes the tea gathering both memorable and successful. The principle of respect extends to everything and everybody, including utensils of various pedigrees. The price of an object should not dictate how it is treated. With a pure heart, true respect can be realized.

Purity (Sei)

Purity is not just about cleanliness, but it is about treating oneself and others with a pure and open heart. This is the essence of tea training. With a pure heart, harmony and respect can be realized. When the tea garden is cleaned, one’s heart and soul are also being purified. A pure heart is not showy but natural, and it is reflected in the natural look of the garden after it is cleaned and a few leaves from a tree fell onto the freshly manicured moss.

Tranquility (Jaku)

Tranquility is the point in one’s training and practice where a level of selflessness is reached. While it is the ultimate goal, it is also the beginning once again. A true master reaches this highest level and then puts the ideals of harmony, respect, and purity into practice, beginning again with a fresh and enlightened heart. At this point, the endless possibilities of life can be realized.

In conclusion, the principles of Chanoyu are not just about the tea ceremony but are a way of life. Integrating the principles of Wa Kei Sei Jaku into everyday life can help achieve a sense of inner peace and harmony with oneself and others.

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