Life Lessons from the Japanese Tea Ceremony


Contribution by Penny

This is a reflection inspired by a book I have read called: The Wisdom of Tea: Life Lessons from the Japanese Tea Ceremony. It was written by Noriko Morishita who studied Tea Ceremony for 25 years and she describes her gradual discovery of deep insights into life within the very rules that once seemed so constricting. It becomes a celebration of perseverance with spiritual practices even though we feel as though we are making no progress…..practice is all there is.

Tea ceremonies are very complex rituals and the movements and utensils vary with the seasons of which there are 12 in the Japanese calendar! Noriko was frustrated when she felt like she was beginning to master one form and then they would be moving onto the next one. Having to pay such close attention to the teacher’s demonstrations could be frustrating and exhausting but every now and then joy would come when she found herself really present to the sound of the rain, the changes in the wind and the moon’s phases that were reflected in the ceremony.

She began to listen to nature ……

’when it is raining listen to the rain’, ‘Nothing was lacking, just being was satisfaction in itself. You’ve got to be right here, in body and mind, use all five senses and immerse yourself in savouring the now’

And gradually she began to understand that there are also cycles of human emotions……..the seasons of the mind and our lives. If you can appreciate even the rain, every day in some sense becomes a good day. We have to put our heart into living every day to the fullest as it will never come again.

There is a saying ichi-go ichi-e which translates as ‘One time one meeting’. Today is a once in a lifetime experience and this might be the last time we meet someone.

Open your eyes. Our lives are a stream of perfect opportunities to discover that we can enjoy every day, no matter what it might bring’.

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