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  • Writer's pictureJames Evangelista

The Four Principles of Japanese Tea Ceremony

There are four principles left by tea master Sen No Rikyu. This represents the spirit, foundation and philosophy of the tea ceremony. It is known as Wa, Kei, Sei, and Jaku: Harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility.

  • Wa (harmony) - An ideal nature of interaction between the guest and the host or any people in life. Harmony extends to nature and all the things on this planet. It is a feeling of oneness with our surroundings. True harmony is the key to peace.

  • Kei (respect) - The ability to accept and respect others even though we have ill feelings towards them. Kindness and humility make us humble, and accept who we are.

  • Sei (purity) - This refers to the purity of the heart. The ability to treat oneself and others with a pure and open heart. Before performing the tea ceremony, guests should wash their hands and through the roji (dewy garden). This tradition is a form of cleansing the mind and spirit. It also refers to the freedom from attachment to the material world.

  • Jaku (tranquility) - The beginning and the end goal by practicing the three principles. This is a state of active stillness. Remaining calm in our lives will help us think clearly and make the proper choices.

These are the four principles of Chanoyu (tea ceremony). These principles are handed down to the next generations to provide guidance in the tearoom. We can use these principles as a framework on how we approach our lives.

*This is a short piece taken from a chapter of the next book that I'm working on. You can grab a copy of my first book Roots here and other bookstores.


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