Continued from Chanoyu: History and Philosophy – Part 1

Scroll reads: “Wa Kei Sei Jaku” – The Four Principles of Tea

The Tea Master Sen Rikyu (1521-1591) Created the Tea Ceremony Practiced Today

Tea ceremony principles that we celebrate today were established and ratified by the tea master, Sen Rikyu.  Rikyu was the son of a merchant. He gained great favor with the third regent of Japan, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who established Rikyu as his esteemed tea master.  

Sen Rikyu, under the authority of the regent, established the principles of the tea ceremony called “wabicha”.  Wabicha is defined as the style of a simple and humble tea ceremony.  The simple character of Rikyu’s tea ceremony continues to be taught and applied wherever a Chanoyu tea ceremony is practiced today.  

Wabicha is embodied in the philosophies of Wa, Kei, Sei, Jaku.  Wabicha does not just guide the art of the tea ceremony but is intended to be integrated into one’s daily life.

Japanese tea ceremony is an Embodiment of Philosophies

There are four principles embodied in the Chanoyu tea ceremony.  Those principles, now four hundred years old, were established by Sen Rikyu.  His purpose in refining the tea ceremony was to create a ceremonial art of simplicity and humility.  Those philosophies are:

  1. Wa (Harmony and Peace) – This is the principle that one should be in harmony with all.  This means being in peace and at one with every element surrounding the ceremony: Guest, host, location, environment, nature, etc.
  2. Kei (Respect) – Honesty, equality, and seriousness between each other.  There should be no division of status.
  3. Sei (Purity) – To adopt a spirit of purity, one of heart, mind, body.
  4. Jaku (Tranquility) – The adoption of WaKei, and Sei principles should result in an inner peace that allows you to completely share oneself.

Participants Embrace a Tea Ceremony with the Idea of Ichi-go Ichi-e

When we participate in a tea ceremony, it is shared with the principle of “ichi-go ichi-e” (pronounced “eecheego eechee-eh”).  This principle is the concept of “one time, one meeting” and the mindfulness that that one tea gathering is a solitary moment in life, never to be repeated.  

With this concept of ichi-go ichi-e, the participants will share a harmonious moment of reverence and spirituality when they share the bowl of tea.

Photo “Wa Kei Sei Jaku” is copyright under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License to the photographer Wilhelmina and is being posted unaltered (source)