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Peace Education

Japanese Tea Ceremony Held in Washington DC

Washington DC, USA - The Washington, DC office of UPF hosted a fall Japanese Tea Ceremony on a beautiful autumn day with multicolored leaves decorating the lawn. The November 15 event was one of UPF's annual Culture of Peace programs for diplomats, Ambassadors for Peace, and friends of UPF. The Tea Ceremony has been practiced for thousands of years and offers a unique aspect of Japanese culture, which reflects the vision of peacemaking espoused by UPF.

The Japanese staff of UPF wore the beautiful and colorful traditional kimonos to greet the guests. The 60 guests included ambassadors and other high-level diplomats from the Embassies of Austria, Bolivia, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Iraq, Kosovo, Laos, Montenegro, Central African Republic, Sri Lanka, Suriname, and Ukraine. Along with Ambassadors for Peace and UPF friends, they enjoyed the tea, sweets, and Japanese cuisine. The guests spent time together developing friendships during the relaxed tea time at the Peace Embassy of the Universal Peace Federation.

The Peace Embassy was decorated with a Japanese traditional scroll, ornaments, and autumn flowers arranged in the tradition of Ikebana, another Japanese tradition.

Originally, green tea was not introduced as a commercial commodity to sell for profit but as a medicinal tea which cured diseases and promoted long life. Tea leaves were ground into a fine powder and added to hot water, then served freely to the common people who came to hear a sermon of the Zen monk Eisai in the 12th century. Cha-no-Yu ("Japanese tea ceremony") developed into a philosophy of the “Way of Tea” by elevating the mundane practice of drinking tea into a deeply spiritual discipline, bringing a Zen quality to the simple, but strictly disciplined, tea ceremony. "What we learn in the Way of Tea is how to respect others, live in harmony and peace, and gain a tranquility of heart. It also teaches beautiful manners and the etiquette of serving others," said host mistress, Tomiko Duggan.

Sen-no-Rikyu, Grand Master of the Tea School of Ura in the 16th century, condensed the essence of the “Way of Tea” as Wa Kei Sei Jyaku, represented by four Chinese characters:

  • Wa is the state of harmony and beauty that only creates a feeling of goodness.
  • Kei is the attitude of respect for all things. This is not only a sincere respect for human beings, but for the sanctity of nature and all material objects.
  • Sei is purification. The pure heart without flaw makes a person honest, truthful and sincere.
  • Jyaku is the level of enlightenment when someone is in oneness with the universal principle. At this stage there is only tranquility in one’s heart.

When guests attend the a ceremony in the a house in Japan, there are two entrances. One is for the host and the other is for the guests. The guest entrance door was made lower signifying humility, causing the guests to lower their heads to enter as a sign of respect to the tea master and to the other guests already seated in the room. This bowing down to enter also made the guests feel they were entering a different world, leaving behind their social status, selfish desires, and greed. The tea room is a place where the guests can mix freely with everyone regardless of rank and the usual strict social standing. In the tea house, all can cultivate their sense of appreciation of the forms of beauty provided in the setting and the special tea articles displayed.

The host prepares the tea ceremony with a special heart, thinking “this is the one chance in life to meet these people and share tea.” This concept of a "once in a lifetime chance" is based on the idea that life is transient and each tea ceremony is a unique combination of people and experience that will never be repeated. This encounter is treated with utmost care and seen as having an eternal significance by the host.

The essence of the teaching of the “Way of Tea” reflects the vision of UPF, which inspires the individual to reach out to the highest ideals of internal character and which can also be utilized as a guide in human affairs. 

UPF's vision of humanity is to be “One human family under God,” living in accordance with universal principles of “living for the sake of others” and overcoming national, cultural, religious, and racial barriers.

As human beings, we are all equal and believe the family is the place where each individual first learns and practices those values and principles which affect all human relationships during our lifetime. The family is a school of love and the very foundation of, or the corner stone for, building a world of peace. The warm environment of oneness based on love and respect between parents and children, mutual fidelity and love between husband and wife, trust and mutual reliance among siblings, is the manifestation of the model ideal family of peace, inspiring the individual to develop the highest ideals of character.

The guests were able to experience an oasis far from their stressful daily work. It was an honor to invite people to the Japanese tea ceremony and share the vision of UPF to build a world of mutual respect, love, and good families, bringing true, lasting peace.

You are invited to view UPF DCOFFICE's photo album of the event: 20121115 Japanese Tea Ceremony Dinner Program.

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