The hanging scroll in the Yojouhan has the character 心 “kokoro”, which could be translated into mind/heart/spirit in English. Try to think how you can put your heart into the activity, no matter that is a tea ceremony or your daily life.

The hanging scroll in the semi-formal tea room features the single character 道 “do”. We are fairly familiar with the character as it is in the Kanji of “the way of tea,” or 茶道. To me, the eternal question would be – what is “the way”? It is an inquiry about philosophy, but it is also a way of living.

This piece also amazes me because of the calligrapher’s manipulation of brush and ink. Notice how he started the last stroke of the character with an exposed tip, then lifted the brush to allow some sparseness in the middle, pressed the brush firmly again, slowly dragged and finally finished the stroke with a flattened and dried tip. The balances between dark and light, thick and thin, saturated and dry are just beautiful.

The hanging scroll in the formal tea room shows 耕不尽, which means “cultivation is unlimited”. Cultivation is an important part of the way of tea, as our goal is to always be learning new things about the art. But this philosophy can also be applied to our own lives, and how we should never stop learning new things, or more about other cultures, or about other people and ourselves. And that we should always strive to become a better person.

~ Zilin


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