Time For a Cup of Zen (and Tea)

November 25, 2008 at 1:51 pm Leave a comment

With the troubled economy, the bailout, the jokes about Depression II, the housing situation, and politics in general stressing everyone out, I wanted something to take my mind off current events. The Book of Tea, by Kakuzo Okakura, is great for slowing down, looking at the world a different way, and forgetting about your cares for an afternoon.


Basically, Sado, or “the way of tea,” is a small, intimate gathering of friends to eat a small meal (usually a sweet cake), drink tea, and leave the business of life behind.

Originally published, in English, in 1906, The Book of Tea is a slim volume that explains what happens in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, and the significance of each action. For example, shortly after guests arrive, they pass through a garden and take time to admire the sounds, sights and fragrances. The change of pace and scenery helps them mentally break free of the outside world.

To enter the tea room, you have to crawl, because the doorway is short (about three feet tall). This maneuver serves the purpose of humility for all the guests, and equalizes everyone from the get-go.

The Book of Tea reveals how a tea ceremony can help you appreciate aesthetic ideals, from the expression of life, to the simplest arrangement of flowers, to “the beautiful foolishness of things.”


Tea rooms are sparse and clean, with little ornamentation and no repetition; what decoration exists changes with the seasons and is deliberately unfinished, or asymmetrical, so that “the tea room is left for each guest in imagination to complete the total effect in relation to himself.”

True beauty is completed in the mind, changing the imperfect to the perfect.

Ahh, I feel better already…

Sarah S.

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November 2008


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