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Peace Education

Explanation of the Way of Tea

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The “Way of Tea” encourages us to reach the highest ideals of internal character and is meant to also be a guide in human affairs. What we learn in the Way of Tea is how to respect others, live in harmony and peace, and obtain a tranquility of heart. It also teaches beautiful societal manners and the etiquette of serving others.

Our office in Washington, DC, offers traditional Japanese Tea Ceremonies for members of the diplomatic corps as a way to promote a culture of peace.

The essence of the Way of Tea is the “Heart of Peace.” The spirit and teaching of the Way of Tea is expressed in four Chinese characters:

Wa is the state of harmony and beauty that 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 tranquility. At the level of enlightenment where you are in oneness with the universal principle, there is only tranquility in one’s heart.

In the tea ceremony, there are several movements made by the master in the process of preparing and serving the tea which symbolize the purification of the heart.

The Way of Tea is a guide for living. The other extreme is Bushido, or the Way of Samurai, and is a guide for dying.

Bushido was initiated and practiced by the Samurai, who were the leadership and warrior class in the military government in the Japanese feudal system. In contrast, the Way of Tea was initiated and became popular among merchants, who were considered to be in the lowest class.

The Way of Tea spread from the bottom up. The practice was not forced on any class of society, and it grew naturally in popularity.

It is also true that warriors and lords patronized the drinking of tea and promoted the tea ceremony. Often when they were in a battle, a tea master would accompany the lord with a portable tea set for the ceremony. The tea ceremony helped the lord find calm and tranquility even in the midst of battle.

The fundamental teaching of the Way of Tea is the equality of all people, in order to eliminate any elements which might give advantage to a particular kind of person.

The Way of Tea offers useful guidelines on how we can live together with respect, peace, and harmony. For this reason, the Way of Tea has lasted centuries after the disappearance of the Samurai.

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