Sen Rikyu, the 16th-century tea master who perfected the Way of Tea, was once asked to explain what this entails. He replied that it was a matter of observing but seven rules. The questioner was vexed with the answer, saying that those rules were simple matters that anyone could handle. Rikyu, knowing that the Way of Tea is well described as the Art of Living, said that he would become a disciple of the person who could carry out these seven rules without fail:
1. Making a satisfying bowl of tea.
2. Lay the charcoal so that the water boils efficiently.*
3. Provide a sense of warmth in the winter and coolness in the summer.
4. Arrange the flowers as though they were in the field.
5. Be ready ahead of time.
6. Be prepared in case it should rain.**
7. Act with utmost consideration of your guests.
*Tending to the source of heat is important. For modern times that might mean to be energy efficient and alert to when the water is perfectly boiled so not to waste more resources than needed.
**Even though it is unlikely that you’ll be preparing your tea outside, be prepared for quick changes of plans.
Adapted from Tea Bliss by Theresa Cheung (Conari Press, 2007). Copyright (c) 2007 by Theresa Cheung. Reprinted by permission of Conari Press.
Adapted from Tea Bliss by Theresa Cheung (Conari Press, 2007).