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scroll with wa kei sei jaku

Four Principles

The tea ceremony helps people by training their mind and body to become more aware of the world around them and how to interact with it. When Rikyu refined chanoyu, the way of tea, he applied his philosopy of wabi-sabi (finding beauty in imperfection) and summarized the teachings in four short words: "wa, kei, sei, jaku"

和 - wa (Harmony)
Harmony was Rikyu's highest ideal. From it comes peace and mutual support. Host and guests need to be in harmony as they interact with each other. Likewise, people need to be in harmony with nature. Having utensils which fit in harmony with the user is equally important. Being in harmony with the world leads the tea person to see the unchanging truths in an ever changing world.
敬 - kei (Respect)
Respect improves harmony by accepting and understanding one another even when disagreeing with them. The hospitality of the host, the concern of the guests for each other and the host, and the careful handling of the utensils encourage the principle of respect. This etiquette reinforces the importance respect has on harmony. Respect extends beyond people. It includes respecting the inanimate objects created by others as well as things created by nature. A tea person treats the simplest of pottery with the same respect as a rare and prized possession. Servants are respected as highly as masters for they are equally important in the overall scheme.
清 - sei (Purity)
Purity, both in mind and body, as well as all around, is important in the study of tea. The host ensures everything the guest interacts with has been meticulously cleaned both before and after use. All of the actions taken are devoid of unnecessary movements, thereby providing the purest form. There is a difference between pure and perfect or sterile. To Rikyu, the ultimate expression of purity was the garden after he spent hours grooming it and several leaves settled randomly on the assiduously manicured walkway.
寂 - jaku (Tranquility)
Tranquility is both the goal and the initial step of the process. It is the calm achieved from understanding the relationship of harmony, respect and purity. It is also the stepping stone to begin again to see these teachings in the light of this new perspective. Tranquility is not a dreamy psychological state, but an active, dynamic, calm force. The silence and stillness of jaku tranquility drives the peace and unity of harmony, respect, and purity.

Seven Rules

A disciple of Rikyu, seeking to learn the innermost mysteries of the tea ceremony, asked Rikyu to explain what this "way of tea" entails. Rikyu replied it was a matter of following seven rules:

  • Make a satisfying bowl of tea
  • Lay the charcoal so that the water boils efficiently
  • Provide a sense of coolness in the summer and warmth in the winter
  • Arrange the flowers as though they were in the field
  • Be ready ahead of time
  • Be prepared in case it should rain
  • Act with utmost consideration toward your guests

After Rikyu listed the seven rules, the disciple replied "Even I know that much." Then Rikyu said, “If you have mastered them, I will become your student.”