Live in the Present With the Ancient Tradition of Teaism

A well-planned act of spontaneity

East Asian inspired kettle illustration from Bijutsu Sekai (1893–1896) by Watanabe Seitei, from

Tea with us became more than an idealisation of the form of drinking; it is a religion of the art of life. The beverage grew to be an excuse for the worship of purity and refinement, a sacred function at which the host and guest joined to produce for that occasion the utmost beatitude of the mundane.

The Book of Tea is not only about the moment of the actual ceremony, but everything in between. Teaism is the preparation of the room, the preparation of the room that will lead into the ceremony room, the preparation of the room where participants will wait to be led into the ceremony room, the layout of each room, the objects in each room and what they represent — even the note which the kettle will sing when the water boils.

Art, to be fully appreciated, must be true to contemporaneous life. It is not that we should ignore the claims of posterity, but that we should seek to enjoy the present more. It is not that we should disregard the creations of the past, but that we should try to assimilate them into our consciousness.

The tea ceremony is that assimilation, containing the shapes and structures determined in the past and the choices made in the present. The Teaist method for preparing flowers is not only about how they are arranged right now but the way they are connected to the room, how they have grown and what will happen to them after. Flowers are left until they dry and whither, and when they die often they are buried — at times even monuments are erected in their memory.

Newly-wed with a baby. Writing about Culture, Language, and Travel. Occasionally I publish pieces of advice to myself about writing or put my degree to work

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