Japan stepped into a new era –
“What is Harmony?” has been on my mind since a friend said, “It went really smoothly. It was harmonious.” she said of a New Years tea gathering we helped host.
Harmony has great significance in Japanese tea ceremony. As a Japanese Tea student, we
written in large ink brush script would hang in the centre of the alcove – like a Buddhist master transmitting his teachings, reminding the student to hold these tenets of the practice to heart.
Despite trays of exquisitely arranged food of more than 10 items each needing to be assembled, bowls of tea to be whisked and served, sake to be poured and a few mishaps thrown-in, the new year tea gathering flowed like clockwork.
Everyone on our service team stepped up to complete whatever task was required. Whatever needed to get done, got done. And thanks to the teacher on duty with her calm and harmonious demeanor, the tone was established for the group to come together as a seamless team. You should have seen “backstage” in the kitchen, some of us did a little jiggly dance pre-show! This group! Haha.
It’s one thing to comprehend something like Harmony conceptionally, and another altogether to exp
Ego in the Tea Room
Way back when
All external labels be it rank, pedigree, creed are left outside the tea room. Upon entrance, everyone is considered equal within that space.
Stripped of the labels, stories, emotional baggage, the one entering the room is essentially a person in its purity. In my mind – perhaps it’s almost like enjoying the gathering over tea with a bunch of zenned out beings, where it doesn’t really matter what they do in their day job, who they are socially, because those don’t matter other than what’s in one’s heart.
Looking into the Heart
When confined in such a small, quiet space of the tearoom, our senses become
Tea Practice is mesmerizing to some, yet an enigma to others. A friend of mine had said she couldn’t see the appeal of it when you’re doing the same thing again and again – take out the utensils, wipe clean the bowl, serve sweets, whisk tea – all the while kneeling on the floor too! Next week – repeat. And the week after – repeat. For some, it can be a life-long involvement.
Chado is so multi-faceted though, those who want to learn about the histories of the utensils or how to move beautifully can do so; those who want to come and meet with fellow tea lovers and enjoy time together over a bowl of tea can do so; those who want to uncover ‘the Way’ through tea may also do so. Chado can be a multi-dimensioned treasure trove where beyond the surface, leaves more to be uncovered and pondered.
Our tea teacher once remarked, Chado isn’t just about the taste of teas so much as it is about the practice of how the person be.
Chinese characters and Chinese expression holds much wisdom and I’ve only
Is togetherness only possible when there is Harmony? Or does Harmony enable togetherness? Chicken and Egg.
The beautiful script calligraphy is by contemporary Japanese calligrapher MAMI. Find her on