What is Chanoyu?
Chanoyu is a traditional Japanese art form in which the master and guests gather in a tea room to drink powdered tea provided by a tea ceremony. Developed and intertwined with Zen philosophy, chanoyu aims to purify the human mind, to promote a deep spiritual exchange with one another, and to unite nature, people, and things.
With a history of more than 800 years, this tea ceremony has long been developed and passed down as a samurai culture.
Samurai warriors, under extreme pressure and stress in the midst of warfare, sought the tea ceremony as a place for spiritual healing and deep interaction with their fellow warriors. The tea ceremony was also used to nurture a "quiet mind" to keep one's composure in addition to a "strong mind" that was cultivated through daily training in the martial arts.
The Philosophy of Chanoyu "Wa Kei Sei Jaku"
The underlying philosophy of chanoyu evolved from Zen Buddhism. Both Tea and Zen emphasize a way of wholly training the self in awareness. 'Chanoyu' translates as 'hot water for tea'. The great tea master Sen Rikyu (1522-1591) described chanoyu as boiling water, making tea, and drinking it. This simple practice is achieved through sincerity of attention and focused energy. He summarized four concepts as the core of chanoyu : wa, kei, sei, and jaku.
To strive for harmony is common to all cultures. Japan has upheld this virtue since ancient times. Peace can be realized when individuals act with a spirit of harmony. It forms the basis of a healthy society.
The desire to receive respect must be coupled with the ability to give it. Showing respect will go a long way to facilitating smooth relationships. Respect transcends human relations and is also afforded to inanimate objects. For example, broken or warped tea bowls are sometimes repaired with the kintsugi technique. By accepting imperfection as individuality and finding beauty in it, we show true respect.
Purity of both mind and body is essential. It is possible to attain a state of purity that will emanate from within through purging one's self of impurities and not being obsessed with superficial concerns.
Achieving a tranquil state by passing through the other three elements takes the adept a step closer to enlightenment. To realize this, one first
needs to understand the self.