Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Absent Tea Master

The tea ceremony is a deeply spiritual undertaking in Japan, home to several kinds of Buddhism. The Buddhism of the Pure Land and its Buddha is by far the most common, but we know of Zen better here in the west. There is at least one other kind. In some ways you would think you were in a Christian church if you attended a Pure Land ceremony. There are churches of this kind around in any city with many Japanese. As far as I know, tea ceremonies are central to all Japanese ways, including Shinto. It is easily possible that a Japanese Samurai would defer to a tea master.

I rarely drink anything but water and a little sparkling water. Even tea is a bit much for me any more. Soft drinks are completely beyond my scope except once in a great while. I have a tonic concentrate I take in water, this twice a day. The Zip Fizz I can get at Costco – sometimes I will drink one of those too. Oh yes, when I remember and it feels right I will take a packet of gourmet hot chocolate and drink that.

I would be happy to sit with a master and have a cuppa.

The Absent Tea Master

The Tea Master has
wandered off into the world
to contend with things
showing us the way.
When it is time to pour, pour.
When time to work, work.
The seasons come, go
with equanimity, so
shall we come and go.

May 18, 2009 10:23 AM


  1. I love that tea is ceremony! It is the ritual of things that so often draws me (in everything but religion, go figure). But I do not love coffee as much as I love the ritual of it, and I find comfort in something that does remain the same, has worked for the ancients as it does for the young.

  2. Ritual is the drama of incantation. You cannot have magic without it. This means if you wish your religion to have accessible power you had better find a meaningful set of rituals. It is not the ritual you dislike, my friend, it is that the rituals are meaningless for you and you dislike meaningless gestures.

    I read a German theologian once, who said, "you need effective prayer. If your prayer is not effective then consider firing that God and hiring a new one who will answer prayer."

  3. Now, this is beter,
    makes me feel a little calmer.


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