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A Celebration of Tea: Sincerity of Heart

Posted by
GJC (Kyoto, Japan) on 16 December 2011 in People & Portrait.

This is the final image from the short series, A Celebration of Tea, which began here.

A story is told about the great tea master, Sen no Rikyū: One of his most faithful students was a very poor man. After much study and practice and with great trepidation he decided to invite the master to his own teahouse. It was an exceedingly modest affair. The poor man had only one bowl. He was so nervous that he spilled some water. His hanging scroll had been gnawed by moths. The plate for the sweets was chipped and the bamboo whisk frayed.

Several students who had accompanied Rikyū left the tea ceremony and began snickering at what they had seen. Rikyū, however, cut them off: "That was the finest tea ceremony I have ever attended."
"What?!" cried the students. "But didn't you see him spill the water, and see his tattered kimono, and that old and musty scroll? Why, sensei, such a tea ceremony is an insult to a great Master like yourself."
"No," Rikyū replied, "he put his whole heart into the tea. Tea is not an exhibition of what the tea man owns. Instead it expresses the sincerity of his heart."

In that spirit I end the series with this photo of my wife enjoying tea at home. She won't be happy to see herself broadcast around the world in a sweatshirt, but, like Rikyū's student, in these modest clothes she makes the finest tea I have ever had. 本当に感謝してます。いつもありがとうございます。

I hope you have enjoyed this series as much as have I enjoyed putting images and text together. And I hope that it will encourage you to attend a tea ceremony if you come to Japan. Guests who are not students of tea are not expected to know or to follow all the rules of those immersed in the art. The important part is just sharing tea with a sincere heart.

NIKON D300 1/60 second F/2.0 ISO 200 52 mm (35mm equiv.)

1/60 second
ISO 200
52 mm (35mm equiv.)