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Tea Life, Tea Mind: Introduction

August 28, 2006


Gongfu Girl is on vacation. She hopes you will enjoy this excerpt from Tea Life, Tea Mind by Soshitsu Sen XV.

A monk once asked his master, “No matter what lies ahead, what is the Way?” The master quickly replied, “The Way is your daily life.” This concept is at the very center of the Way of Tea. The principles of the Way of Tea are directed toward all of one’s existence, not just to the part that takes place in the tearoom. In practice, the test lies in meeting each occurrence of each day with a clear mind, in a composed state. In a sense, even one’s smallest action is the Way of Tea. It is this that makes it just as significant today as when it began more than four hundred and fifty years ago.


Sen Rikyu (1522 – 91) identified the spirit of the Way of Tea with the four basic principles of harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility. These four principles underlie all the practical rules of Tea and represent at the same time its highest ideals.

Tomorrow: Harmony

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