Amid world developments[September 2016]

Fuden-An: Leaves from a Tea-Journal

Amid world developments[September 2016]

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

By the time you read this entry, autumn will have arrived. But one can’t say what kind of autumn it may be due to the irregular nature of the climate. Indeed, we are often surprised by how time seems to fly by faster each year, I am more surprised by how there seem to be increasingly more hot days than cool or cold days each year.

After we are alerted of water shortages, it is not long before torrential rains or guerilla rainstorms, a term of which I am not particularly fond, arrive and leave tremendous damage in their wake. It seems this kind of extremity is present not only in nature but also increasingly in modern society.

As is demonstrated by Brexit, is seems that nationalist sentiments are trumping other forms of ideology. The world seems to be dominated by binary forms of decision making, either I like it or I don’t, either it’s yes or no. It is not clear to me whether this reflects the true quality of the leadership or if they result from political considerations.

Terrorism and armed conflicts born from the emergence of radical ideologies and military frictions seem to be increasingly adding to instability across the world. What terrifies me lately is that there are more and more criminals who are influenced by these extremists, and despite having no conviction, take actions that leave casualties in their wake. It is very regrettable that humanity faces these tragedies in this 21st century.

In the midst of these unfortunate incidents, how the Japanese act and react is still unclear. Traditionally speaking, the ability to listen to others is an example of a good Japanese quality. In a world where people no longer want to listen to others, it is very difficult to both be a listener and have one’s own opinions. The Japanese have been so adamant about peace at any price that their ability to reconcile these two attitudes has blunt.

We were once able to sense what others were thinking, be considerate of them and in turn this would lead to great hospitality. The one who received this hospitality would in turn want to return the favor.

As such, the Japanese traditionally place a lot of emphasis on exchange and it is important that we reflect on how this contrasts with the increasingly unilateral nature of things today.

In closing, I ask that you look for the answer in the art of tea ceremony.