Zen is difficult to define but it refers to mindfulness and the idea that simple actions may lead to the awakening of our spirits. There are a lot of similarities between the main principles of tea ceremony (harmony, respect, tranquility) and the philosophy of zen (mindfulness, nothingness, transience).Tea ceremony involves following dozens of prescribed steps so that one does not have to think about the next step and gain inner peace while performing this ritualistic activity. That is why tea ceremony cannot be considered separately from the zen. Tea ceremony also has the values of vabi sabi (natural, simple and minimalistic things are better) which are deeply embedded in Zen Buddhism.
We should also remember that
- Tea ceremony was introduced to Japan by a Buddhist monk Named Eisai who also introduced Zen to Japan.
- Matcha tea was first drunk at the zen temples to not to fall asleep. First ceremonial green tea drinking took place in zen monasteries.
- The scrolls (kakejiku) hung on the walls of the tea ceremony rooms are usually brushed by Buddhist monks who are Zen masters. Sometimes those scrolls are related to Zen verses and teachings.
- Tea ceremony rules were shaped by Zen masters such as Shuko Murata and Zen followers such as Sen No Rikyu.
- Almost all Zen temples have tea ceremony rooms.
- Tea ceremony masters must be trained on the zen philosophy.
- The poetic sounding tea ceremony utensil names are sometimes the same with the zen concepts
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