April 01, 2006

Tea Lesson 2

Sokei Kuno: Fukusa sabaki

On wabi-sabi:
"It is difficult to define the two concepts of sabi and wabi unambiguously, since in their deepest sense they have to be felt rather than cognized.

‘It shows taste to tie up a noble courser in front of a thatched hut’ – this saying of Shuko’s contains both sabi and wabi.

The picture of a simple, thatched hut, preferably standing by itself amid a winter landscape, conveys to us the concept wabi. And a noble stallion tied up to, or in front of, this simple, lonely hut is sabi.

Not only does this aesthetic ideal embrace a mere simple beauty, but it has to be a beauty containing within itself the wabi feeling – a dark, subdued, yet pregnant beauty, the beauty of maturity.

Sabi is characterized by the absence of obvious beauty, by the beauty of the colorless as opposed to the resplendent, by the beauty of the perishable as against the exuberantly active. The concept sabi, then, carries the meaning of ‘aged’ in the sense of ‘infused with the patina which lends old things their beauty’ – but also tranquility, aloneness, deep solitude.

Taking this together with a pronouncement of the Yamanoe no Soji ki, we can begin to appreciate the ultimate goal of the ideal in question: ‘If a person has become a Grand Master of the Tea Ceremony and still possesses only one kind of tea utensil, this, to a wabi devotee, amounts to total perfection.’ Here, then, once again, the right attitude is seen as proceeding from the heart.

We can here detect the first appearance of the ‘imperfect’ in the Tea Ceremony. And this concept is likewise central to the Tea Way as a whole. But there is even more to the concept wabi than this. It involves the recognition of the limits of human will in the face of the universe, the respecting of one’s fellow-man as one sentient being among an infinite number of sentient beings, together with self-moderation and the will to self-effacement."

Excerpted from Zen in the Art of the Tea Ceremony by Horst Hammitzsch, ©1958, ISBN 090654002X (pp. 45-6).

Inspecting the hishaku Pouring water Warming the Ochawan (tea bowl)


Anonymous toko said...

Hi Joyce,

It was very wonderful to meet you at Chanoyu.
Well It would be also nice if we can exchange some nice ideas about Japan or Burning ROM products in near future again!
Keep in touch!
Best Regards, Toko

1/4/06 23:26  
Blogger joel said...

I love what you're doing. now we both have to do more...

- feel the vlove!



3/4/06 22:31  

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