Cleaning[July 2015]

Fuden-An: Leaves from a Tea-Journal

Cleaning[July 2015]

KOBORI Sojitsu (the 13th Grand Master of the Enshu Sado School )

Around this time every year, a 'gyosho', a scroll on which semi-cursive Kanji characters are written, written by the eleventh generation tea master Shinan Soumei, hangs within the alcove of the training area of our school. When the season of the wind furnace reaches its peak in June or July, the outdoor area of joujuan is covered in greenery and the dew on the moss, shining in the sun, is magnificient.

When I look at this greenery, I feel a calm in my heart. However, to preserve this beauty, you have to do some daily care which involves cleaning the garden, watering and weeding.

You will agree that it is sometimes necessary to make an effort that might go unnoticed in order to keep something in a good condition. In this respect, nature teaches us many things.

One of the lessons that I learned from my training at the Zen temple Keitoku was sweeping, something I learned from nature.
Sweeping is not a simple job. Every morning after getting up, we began sweeping every day, the exact same places, for 365 days of the year but how we handled the brush and how we used water would change depending on the season.

In a Zen temple in the summer, the sun rises early, so we have to get up at half past four and in the winter an hour later. This is because we must get to work before the sun rises in the summer but in the winter we wait until after the sun rises.

In the summer, the sweeper spends most of his time weeding. This is a job that never ends, because weeds always grow back. When I was doing my training at the Zen temple, I was still young and one day I tried to uproot some weeds, leaving holes everywhere in the garden. My Zen master said to me, "This is useless. Weeds are like human desires, you will never be rid of them. Instead of trying to get rid of them altogether, think about how to deal with them when they appear. Don't try to remove them at their roots but instead remove them once they appear."

This is the same for dead leaves that fall in the late autumn. You can sweep all day but when the wind blows more leaves will fall and there is meaning in picking these up.

Even in tea ceremony, before serving tea, one must purify one's hands, mouth, and the tea utensils such as the bowls. While this has practical purpose, the purifying process and the focus one must have when doing it also effects the tea practitioner themselves.

Once, through practice, you come to understand what I have described above, you will gain an even deeper understanding of tea ceremony.