Starting off the semester, we have a recitation of Rikyu's didactic verse: sono michi ni hairan to omou kokoro koso waga mi nagara no shishou narikere, or "To have the mind to enter this path is, indeed, to have an inherent teacher".

Just to dissect this a bit, we find that the word "path" is the same as the "way" in "the way of tea," or chado. The word "mind" here refers to kokoro, which may be translated not only as "mind", but also as "heart" or "spirit", and is a word that really encompasses all three. So then, what is this about the kokoro of those that study chado? What does it mean to have an inherent teacher?

Learning anything requires the communication of information from the environment into ourselves. In the traditional educational setting, this communication is between a teacher and the student. For chado, there is also a teacher to learn from during class. I feel part of what it means to have an inherent teacher is the capacity to teach ourselves more directly from the environment, from our own observations. That is, instead of relying completely on another person as our teacher, we are capable of reasoning and learning on our own.

Relating this to the rest of the verse, I feel like it's saying that the kokoro of those that study chado embody this quality of having an inherent teacher. It's a quality that certainly helps guide us along the "way" of chado, and perhaps something that guided us toward chado in the first place. One of the central tenets of chado is ichi go ichi e, or "one time, one meeting," expressing the value of the present moment. And to be in the present moment is to directly experience the environment around us from integrating all of our senses.

~ Felix


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