Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Taste of Tea and Zen

(From "Tea Life, Tea Mind," by Soshitsu Sen XV.)

Shelter is enough if it protects from the rain.

Food is sufficient if it satisfies hunger.

With your own hands bring wood and water, heat the water and make tea. Arrange flowers and burn incense.

In the Way of Tea, if we do not have the attitude that daily life itself is the discipline of Zen, then the act of preparing a bowl of tea becomes only one of form, a mere posturing.

To realize enlightenment, in Tea we use training in the actual procedures of making tea.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


To understand New Mexico's craving for green chile, you may be interested in the conversation that I had last night with a local roaster.

He reported having roased 500 bags--gunny sacks--of chile that day alone! His three stores combined have roasted 3,000 bags so far this season (with about three weeks of roasting left).

Multiply that exponentially to account for all other roasters in the Duke City, then add roasters all over the state and you begin to imagine the scale.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Tuesday's Tea

External reality is but one aspect of subjective reality.

Be neither oppressed nor unsettled by the objective world, but set yourself free from it.

Vacillating between action and inaction until the next problem arises, we end up going along with the current of the times, muttering with the crowd, "After all, what can be done about it anyway?"

We should be centered so that wherever we are, whatever happens, we never lose the infantlike primal mind we are born with.

In order for us to reach this state we need a discipline or way along which to travel in search of our primal mind.

(Text is quoted from "Tea Life, Tea Mind" by Soshitsu Sen XV.)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Tea Time Again

The place of practice lies in the pure and honest spirit where there is no false vanity.

When you enter the Way of Tea, no matter how you think you may disgrace yourself, it will not be taken as disgrace or shame. Make mistakes, be rebuked, stand corrected, and learn.

The Way of Tea is not to be found in books. It is through direct experience with our own bodies and not only our intellects that we can attain this state.

Cleanse your heart, remove all the dust of the world.

Tea, like cleaning, is not a skill to memorize but one that is acquired slowly by the body and the spirit.

(Text is quoted from "Tea Life, Tea Mind" by Soshitsu Sen XV, as were last week's posts.)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Hey, Wait a Minute

Do you know this expression:
    "I feel like I'm on top of the world!"
What does that mean?!

Isn't the world round? Isn't everyone on top of it?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Tortilla Heaven

Took a break last evening from my regular routine and went to The Guild Cinema to see "Tortilla Heaven." If you want to see a funny slice of life in the southwest, don't miss this movie! Think "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" with green chile.

You're Going to Be Hearing More About This Guy

Mark Ronson, DJ, producer and musician, has made a name for himself.

He's just about to become even more popular.

Why? Bob Dylan gave him access to the orignal tracks of Dylan's "Most Likely You'll Go Your Way (And I'll Go Mine)." Ronson's version will be in stores in the United Kingdom on Monday, Sept. 24th.

If you are in town, drop by: I have a pre-release of the single and it's a lot of fun!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Another Sip

The practice of Tea should serve to provide calm, rather than be the setting for display.

The difficulty lies rather in the path to the attainment of simplicity, and there is no way to arrive at this point quickly.

Spring has flowers, summer has cool breezes, fall has the moon, winter has snow.

Simple and unpretentios flowers of the season.

The appropriate combination of the various utensils reveals the heart or sincerity of the host. Only when the relationship of the host and guest is placed first do mute utensils come to life and show their worth.

Anticipate the needs of your guests.

Abandon any goal of achieving success.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Wednesday's Tea

The Way of Tea is not merely an art or accomplishment or amusement, but is rather a way of life possessing a strong ethical and moral character.

Rule One: Make a delicious bowl of tea.
Material sufficiency is inadequate. What is missing is the sincere heart of the host.

Rule Two: Lay the charcoal so that it heats the water.
This rule directs attention to the lightness of spirit that comes when one sincerely brings all of one's knowledge and technical skill to any task that is for the benefit of one's guest.

Rule Three: Arrange the flowers as they are in the field.
No principles of structure or composition. Try to bring to the guest the whole life that lies within each flower: that is, the individual beauty that all flowers possess naturally, the singularly transient life given by nature to the flowers. Know the precious life of all flowers represented in a single blossom.

Rule Four: In summer suggest coolness; in winter, warmth.

Rule Five: Do everything ahead of time.
To value one's own time and keep a certain margin is nothing other than to respect the time of others.

Rule Six: Prepare for rain.
The ability to respond with composure to any occasion, whatever may happen, with an open heart and free and direct mind.

Rule Seven: Give those with whom you find yourself every consideration.
Neither host nor guest acts merely as he pleases, but both act with mutual consideration. One becomes truly human through interaction with another. The host puts his whole being into the preparation of a tea gathering. The guest enters the tearoom with the intent of giving his host all of his heart, spirit, and mind.

Each tea gathering is an opportunity for an experienc that will never occur again in one's life.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Bits o' Tea

The tokonoma, or decorative alcove, is where a scroll is hung and a simple flower arrangement placed.

What I tried to memorize would soon be forgotten, but whatever I learned with my own body would remain with me for a lifetime.

We must have the confidence to say to ourselves, "No, I was not dozing."

To see someone make a bowl of tea and listen to an explanation of it does not make the practice readily understandable.

It would have been wrong to think of propagating that spiritual practice as if it were export merchandise.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Updated At Last!

I said I was back and then promptly had no time to update my blog. I have lots to say about perceptual reality and the like as learned at my class, but it just seems to complex to detail here when I'm mostly typing on the fly right now. Will get back to it eventually.

In the meantime, I want to post some quotations from an excellent book "Tea Life, Tea Mind" by Soshitsu Sen XV. The quotes are really great, I think, and seem to pertain to where I am headed in life right now. I'll not worry too much about punctuating to reflect my edits, but will just type what I've underlined in the book to make it easier to read.

Click on daily to check for updates, as I will be posting my way through the book!

The Way is your daily life.

The spirit of the Way of Tea is harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility.

Harmony is the result of the interaction of the host and guest, the food served, and the utensils used with the flowing rhythms of nature.

Respect is the sincerity of heart that liberates us for an open relationship with the immediate environment, our fellow human beings, and nature, while recognizing the innate dignity of each.

Purity though the simple act of cleaning...clearing the 'dust of the world,' or the worldly attachments, from one's heart and mind.

Tranquility comes with the constant practice of the first three principles.

That we can find a lasting tranquility within our own selves in the company of others is the paradox.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Back Again

I was away for a class in Santa Fe from Sept. 3-8. I am eager to post some about my learning there, but for now must focus on catching up at work, with clients and church commitments. Check in soon for updates!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

For Ken

...and everyone else who believes that some of the most interesting people in your life are people in their forties who have know idea what they are going to do with their lives....