Wa: harmony. The whole process is how a host and guest beautifully enjoy a bowl of tea in harmony. It is extremely important in the Japanese culture that the kanji character of Japanese (和) is the same with the kanji character of harmony (和). Harmony is the foundation of Japanese culture and Japanese people believe harmony is not limited to humans, it can be between humans and objects and humans and nature.

Kei: respect. Tea ceremony may look simple but during the whole procedure the host does everything to please the guest and the guest responds with continued appreciation. Every little thing from the flower arrangement to the scroll on the wall indicates the utmost attention paid to the preparation for the ritual. One of the many aspects of the tea ceremony that the foreign guests may not realize is the ritualistic way of showing appreciation by the guests. For instance, the person that is sitting close to the hanging scroll must make some positive comments about the room design prepared for that day. After drinking the tea, the guests should put their bowl on the floor and then pick them up and take a close look and then make some positive comments about how interesting and unique the bowls are. This is all to show the respect and appreciation. As stated in the book cha no yu “The guest must fully realize the pains taken by the host, to give him as little trouble as possible. The ideal relation between them is a mutual understanding and appreciation that needs no words to express.”

Sei: purity. Even though the utensils used in tea ceremony are usually prepared and cleaned in advance one goes through the tedious process of cleaning the utensils in front of the guests over and over again. The guests wash their hands before entering the tea room purifying themselves from the worldly things. The host purifies his heart and mind while cleaning the tea utensils.  Everything must imply purity from the sound of hot water pouring into the bowl to the smell of freshly powdered matcha. The tea ceremony in general is heavily influenced by Zen buddhism but the ritualistic purity aspect has no doubt been influenced by Shintoism as well.
Jaku: Tranquility. Jaku is not an effortful process, it is the natural result of practicing harmony, respect and purification that leads to peacefulness and calmness that give people the power of controlling their worldly desires. The zen philosophy suggests that simple actions in daily life (e.g. carving the wood, brushing a script, etc.) leads to awakening. When performing tea ceremony, a simple action of preparing tea with the clear mind paves a way to the awakening of our souls. One does not have to think about intricate processes of tea ceremony and smoothly moves with nothing in mind that creates inner peace the realization of self.  We should remember that the ultimate rule of awakening is the “presence” at the moment and understanding the true “self.” Thus, tea ceremony helps individuals deepen their connection to their inner spirit.
4 principles of tea ceremony Rikyu’s 7 rules

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