Tea ceremony: a slow understanding of the harmony of the world.
The tea ceremony is the most complete and perfect expression of Japanese aesthetics, at least of that aspect of it which is connected with the doctrine of Buddhism. It combines the meditativeness of Zen and the aesthetic ideals of wabi (an aesthetic-moral principle that proclaims the charm of a quiet, serene life, free from worldly worries; implies strict, simple beauty and a deep calmness of consciousness) and sabi (an aesthetic concept that finds special charm in antiquity, simplicity, peace, solitude).
In Japanese, the tea ceremony is called “cha-no yu” (literally “tea boiling water”), and if we are talking about the tea ceremony as an art, the term “sado” (“the way of tea”) is used. “Do” (“path”) reflects the special nature of the Japanese arts, which require not only the study of theory and practice, but also the achievement of a special state of consciousness (“kado” – ikebana, “shedo” — calligraphy, as well as martial arts-judo, karate — do, etc.). The tea ceremony is the most difficult of these arts from the point of view of a foreigner. For many, in principle, it is not clear how the brewing and drinking of tea can be elevated to the rank of art. In fact, few people even bother to attend a real tea ceremony. And if they do, the inconvenience of sitting on the tatami mat for a long time in seiza, and the unusual appearance and taste of tea (according to some — something like green soap foam) do not allow them to feel the true beauty of the ceremony.
In order to truly enjoy the tea ceremony, you need a habit, a thorough knowledge of the rules of behavior and a certain knowledge of Eastern philosophy. In general, the habit and a certain set of knowledge are required in order to begin to appreciate some types of European art — for example, classical opera or abstract art in painting. Another thing is that our culture prepares us for their perception to a greater extent than for the perception of the tea ceremony.
A thorough knowledge of the rules of behavior is simply necessary because the tea ceremony involves the perception of the participant, not the viewer. It is almost equally created by the efforts of the host and guests. Actually, if the “audience” is unprepared, then the tea ceremony turns into a kind of mini-show, a demonstration — and to a large extent loses its significance.
Now about the understanding of Eastern philosophy. First of all, we need to distract ourselves from the result-oriented attitude that is in our blood. Enjoy the process. Don’t look for subtext — just learn to see beauty in every movement. Relax and feel that you are here and now. Again, in order to appreciate the tea ceremony, you need to understand the Japanese aesthetics. See the beauty in an unglazed ceramic cup of irregular shape, in the modest stems of wildflowers standing in tokonoma, in a bamboo ladle, in a small tea house made of unpainted wood. This, alas, is not possible for everyone — just as not everyone sees the beauty of the imperial palace or the shogun’s castle in Kyoto (according to some reviews, it is empty and uncomfortable, but in our palaces. )
The history of the tea ceremony began with Bodhidharma, who according to the traditional Buddhist version came to China around 520 and founded the Chan (Zen) teaching. Among other things, legend attributes the creation of a tea bush to Bodhidharma: once, while sitting in meditation, he felt that he was falling asleep, and was so angry that he tore out his eyelashes (according to another version — eyelids) and threw them away. They became a tea bush, and since then Zen monks have been using tea as a remedy for drowsiness. Gradually (here we are already moving from the realm of legends to the realm of history), a whole ritual of drinking tea developed in Buddhist monasteries. And even then, the tea was ground into powder, but after that it was mixed with boiling water in a teapot and only then poured into ceramic cups like bowls.
However, if we strictly adhere to history, and not legends, then the ancestor of the tea ceremony should not be considered Bodhidharma, but Lao Tzu, and the time of her birth is not the VI century AD, but the V BC. Then Lao Tzu invented a certain ritual with a cup of a certain “golden elixir” — what is a” golden elixir”, my source, unfortunately, is silent. This ritual existed in China before the Mongol invasion, and then turned into a simple brewing of dried tea leaves.
At the beginning of the 6th century, Buddhism entered Japan, and with it the culture of drinking tea. The tea ritual itself was introduced later, at the beginning of the Kamakura period (1185-1333), by a Buddhist priest named Eisai. The ritual that he brought was already closer to the tea ceremony that we know of, since it meant that the tea was whipped directly in the cups. It was called “yotsugashira”. In addition, Eisai brought the seeds of the tea bush — the wild tea that grew in Japan was considered not so refined, so most of the tea that grows in Japan today came from the tea that Eisai brought. Gradually, the tea ceremony began to spread among the laity — first of all, of course, the aristocracy and samurai. Then the rich merchants joined in. From them came Takeno Jo, the famous master of the tea ceremony.
A key figure in the history of the tea ceremony is Sen no Rikyu (1522-91). It was he who actually made it what we know it to be. He started using modest Japanese utensils instead of expensive Chinese ones. In addition, Seng-no began to make tea in the same room where the guests were sitting (previously, this was done in another room). And he also introduced many of the other rules: he determined the size of the tea house in 4 and a half tatami mats (about 7.3 square meters), developed its design. In addition to the actual tea ceremony, Sen no Rikyu was a master of ikebana and became the founder of a new direction — “nageire” (thrown flowers). Compositions of this particular direction were used to decorate the tea house. Seng no Rikyu is depicted on the gate of the Daitokuji Temple in Kyoto. This honor also brought the master death: Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the second of the unifiers of Japan, was terribly angry when he learned that he had passed under the Rikyu when entering the temple, and ordered him to commit hara-kiri. After Rikyu’s death, the tea ceremony continued to develop and lives on to this day.
In Edo-era Japan, knowledge of the tea ceremony was mandatory for an educated person — even the shoguns practiced it. Its study is part of the geisha education program. And in general, the popularity of the tea ceremony does not fall. However, if earlier the tea ceremony was primarily performed by men, now most of the masters are women. There are many schools of tea ceremony, each of which has its own rules, its own preferences in choosing the style of utensils, etc. The most famous masters are Ura Senke, Omote Senke, Musyakoji Senke, Kobori Ensyu, Yabunouchi, Sohen and others.