Honolulu, Hawaii: Honolulu Academy of Arts
(Copyright not renewed)
Dr. Soetsu Yanagi, founder and director of the Tokyo Folk Art Museum, visited Honolulu in January, 1953, accompanied by the noted English potter and writer, Bernard Leach, and Japan's great potter, Shoji Hamada. The visit was sponsored by the University of Hawaii, the Handicraft Development Project of the Honolulu Chamber of Commerce, and the Honolulu Academy of Arts.
During that visit, the Honolulu Academy of Arts enjoyed the special privilege of presenting Dr. Yanagi's lecture The Way of Tea to the Honolulu public. The Academy is honored by Dr. Yanagi's gracious gesture in permitting us to make this significant contribution to the literature of esthetics available to a wider audience by means of this publication.
Robert P. Griffing, Jr., Director
Honolulu Academy of Arts
THE WAY OF TEA
They saw; before all else, they saw. They were able to see. Ancient mysteries flow out of this spring of seeing.
Everyone sees things. But all people do not see them in the same manner; therefore, they do not perceive the same thing. Some may see into the depth of things, others see only the surface; and the objects seen may be divided into right and wrong. To see and misapprehend is but little better than not to notice. Though everyone says he sees things, how few can see things properly. Among these few are found our early masters of Cha-no-yu (we will call them Tea-Masters.) They had deep-seeing eyes. They could comprehend intuitively. And because of their penetration, they saw truth.
What was their way of seeing? They saw directly. This directness makes all the difference in the world. It is a wonderful experience to attain the object directly through the eye. Most people look through some medium, generally inserting something between the eye and the object. Some interpose their thoughts or their personal tastes, others their habits. Assuredly these stimulate different points of view; but it is quite another thing to see directly. Seeing directly constitutes a direct communion between the eye and the object. Unless we see a thing without mediation, we cannot grasp the thing itself. The eminent Tea Masters were capable of this directness, a capacity which is, indeed, the test of genuine Tea Mastership. Only the masters who can do this are true Men of Tea, just as those who can see God face to face are the real priests worthy of the name. Men of Tea are masters of the power of seeing.
What, then, did the Tea Masters see face to face? What did their seeing eyes disclose? It was the reflection of the inner nature of things. Or, we might say, it was the seeing of the reality of things, which the old philosophers used to call "the eternal mode." It is not seeing a part of the thing, but the thing itself. The whole is not the sum total of the parts. The sum total and the whole are two distinct things. The whole is indivisible; it cannot be divided. To see the whole directly means to see before thinking, with no time for discrimination. If we look at things with our thoughts, we see only a portion; if we use our intellect before we see, our understanding will be superficial. We learn more through the power of seeing than through the power of intellectual understanding. There is a passage in a religious book which reads: "He who would know before he believeth cometh never to the true knowledge of God." It is the same with the beautiful. Those who employ their intellect before they see are denied a real comprehension of beauty. Before all else the devotees of Tea saw. They applied their eyes directly to the objects.
If the eye is clear, it functions promptly. As it penetrates, it is free of doubt. Doubt begets thought; thought bedims the eye. To see full in the face is to see clearly. If we see clearly, we have no time to hesitate. Thus, seeing is at once believing. We believe because we can see clearly; the revelation of the reality of the thing induces belief. Those who see directly are quick in their apprehension. The working of the eye transcends time. Discernment of the good from the bad is instantaneous. People free of doubt are bold. The seers, therefore, made discoveries. Thus diverse things were born of the Tea Masters' eyes.
With them, seeing was identical with creating. All the O-Mei-butsu (enduring masterpieces of Tea-Utensils) no matter by whom, or where or when they were originally produced, may well be said to have been the creations of the eminent Tea Masters, for their eyes created things freely and without reserve.
Thus it is that the founders of the cult did not see things by means of a cult; rather, it was vision that brought it into being. How widely they differ in this respect from the later devotees of Tea! To look at things through a cult means indirect seeing. Very few are aware of this fact. Tea that has degenerated into Tea Mannerism is not Tea. When we forget to see things directly with our own eyes, Tea loses its fundamentals. Tea always teaches the necessity of going straight to the object. It does not teach us to look at things through Teaism. If we are enslaved by Tea, we lose sight of true Tea. Unless we purify our eyes, how can we keep Tea pure?
But seeing was not the sole merit of the Tea Masters. They did not stop there, for merely to see is not seeing completely. Seeing led them to using, and using to seeing still deeper. Without using there is no complete seeing, for nothing so sets off the beauty of things as right application. Through use, therefore, the Tea Masters approached still closer to the secrets of beauty. If we want to see a thing well, we must use it well. Not only did the Tea Masters enjoy beauty with the eye and contemplate it with the mind, but they also experienced it with the whole being. We might say they comprehended it in action, if such an expression can be used. Tea is not a mere appreciation of beauty. To live beauty in our daily lives is the genuine way of Tea. Simply seeing with the eye is not the whole of Tea.
The way of Tea is the mode of looking at utensils and the code of conduct required to handle them. Everyone uses utensils daily, but there arise distinctions according to what utensils are used, and still greater ones according to how they are used. That is, everyone may use utensils, but the things used are various and the ways they are handled are different. Some do not use what they should; others use what they should not. Some do not care what they use; others do not trouble themselves about the way they use what they use. Can such people be rightly called users?
The way of choice is decisive, and the manner of use enlivens or kills. Misuse is worse than non-use. There are more ways than one in the use of things. The changings of the seasons, the alternation of morning and evening, the very rooms, the personality of articles themselves—all these call for an endless creativeness. Utensils have to wait for men just as men wait for them. It may be easy to use things, but how many know how to use them? True men of Tea adapted things into their most intimate lives and mastered them. From seeing things they went on to using them. That they lived beauty in their practical life is veritably their most meritorious service.
But what did they use? It was not that they used merely what was available. They chose things which had heretofore not been so used. It is even probable they did not always know for what use the utensils had been intended. It was their beauty which made them wish to adapt them to their own daily lives. They invented methods of application, thus making them useable. In the end they went so far as to think that there was nothing else which could be utilized in their place; they thought that no other articles for such use existed. But today everyone regards them as things created for the use of Tea. The Tea Masters created these utensils and originated their uses. Apart from this creation, The Cult of Tea would not have existed. It was not that tea utensils existed previously for men of Tea to use; rather, that they used to the greatest advantage the things which they thought beautiful. Thus, the things they mastered became tea utensils. Things that cannot be used possess something negative in their beauty. Ugly things are not fit to be used. Real beauty appeals to us, asks to be used. Such things are too beautiful to be neglected. The seeing eye will urge the using hand.
In this way was Cha-no-yu born. Instead of the utensils being the result of the cult, they created it. The seeing eye and the using hand fostered tea utensils from mere utensils. When there are no beautiful utensils, there is no real Tea. In other words, without the power to create beautiful utensils, there can be no Tea Cult. Some say Tea independent of utensils is possible, others complain that because they have no proper tea utensils they cannot enjoy Tea. Both speak but small truth. Without the eye that can discern suitable utensils, how can Tea be preserved? And without the power to create tea utensils, how can Tea flourish? Granting that there are utensils, if we were powerless to use them, of what would the Tea Ceremony consist?
The remarkable accomplishment of our Tea Patriarchs is that they started a new development in the making of utensils. It was not that Tea utensils existed and the Masters used them, but that common wares were transformed into tea utensils because the Masters saw and used them. No tea utensils existed before; they came into being only through the Masters. What then, of the utensils that were created after them. Think, for instance, of the Chuko-Meibutsu (Masterpieces of the Revival), which are counted among the treasured utensils: how inferior when compared with the old O-Meibutsu! Should we not be ashamed to show them to the great masters of past centuries? Indeed, the authentic beauty of the O-Meibutsu is sublime.
But it must be remembered that these enduring Masterpieces (O-Meibutsu) were originally but ordinary, neglected wares. Only the coming of the Tea Masters ennobled them into exquisite tea utensils. And through the seeing eye we too are able to increase the number of O-Meibutsu. The world is full of hidden beauty and only a limited portion of it was discovered by the great masters. There must be countless masterpieces waiting for us to bring them to light. At present there are no masters who can use these unfortunate utensils perfectly, and thus exalt them to O-Meibutsu. Such geniuses would infinitely enhance the glory of the founders of our Cult of Tea.
How, then, did the Tea Masters use them? Magnificently! They were not merely ingenious in application, nor did they know only how to use them.
The modes allowed by the Tea Masters passed into laws. In time, it came to be felt that the only correct use was that prescribed by the Masters. Who else could employ the utensils with the same profound insight? However, not to them alone did the mode they invented belong. It was elevated into a form, and that form transcended the individual, even the Tea Master. It became a universal law. How the methods of the Masters became law is indeed extraordinary.
This does not mean that the Masters thought out the forms beforehand and then applied Tea to them. Use the right utensils in the right place at the right time, and you will find that it coincides with the law. The most efficient use—that, in itself, assumes a definite form. The form is the crystallization of the manner of using. Boil a thing down and you will get its essence. That is the Form, the Way. Unless an article is used to this extent, its use is not complete. If the extent of use is incomplete, the article is not really used; when it is really used, we shall find it used according to the law. The form of Tea is a necessity, not a device. Can there be anything more natural than the law?
Tea is, therefore, the Way. Since it is the Way, it is universal. It is a law to which one must conform. Tea does not admit personal likes and dislikes. It is not such a shallow thing as to trifle with individual tastes. The way of Tea transcends the individual. The Law is the beauty of Tea. Tea which expresses individuality cannot be the right Tea. It must belong to all. It is not a private path, but a highway for humanity.
Thus Cha-no-yu has been called a Ceremony. A ceremony presupposes a ritual pattern. Having become ritual, it can now claim a name, the Way of Tea. The Way claims our service. The ritual of Tea has invested it with authority, and its disciples must be loyal and obedient to the ritual. Some may regard obedience as a restraint, but to obey a law is to conform to it and that is absolute liberty. Liberty must not be confused with wilfulness. Perfect freedom lies only in observing the law. Wilfulness is the heaviest of fetters; self-assertion will bind us hand and foot. Ceremonial Tea is the road to freedom. Here, and here only, can be found the profound significance of all the traditional arts. Where else can we find the beauty of the Noh-drama or the art of the Kabuki Theatre in the forms? Every new thing is admittedly destined to stabilization on the basis of its own form, which in the course of its development it will naturally acquire. Tea attains its consummate beauty in its forms. Tea devotees must respect the law. The longevity of the cult depends solely on the existence of these forms. The Tea Ceremony continues forever, unaffected by the death of the founder or the coming and going of successive Masters. It is super-human; time cannot efface it. Many a false Tea Master may succeed, yet Cha-no-yu as a form will remain unchanged. If Cha-no-yu had not been raised to a ritual, its history might long since have run its course. A thing limited to individuals is but short-lived.
Surviving to this day are not the persons but the forms. Yet, oh for real Tea Masters who could inspire the forms! The forms at present have paled to a shadow. It is deplorable that there are so many who misapprehend and distort them. They adhere too strictly to the forms and fail to grasp the spirit. No one hurts Tea more seriously than he who mistakes these essential forms for superficial patterns. The two must be clearly distinguished. The Tea which exaggerates the importance of the outward forms only is offensive to the eye.
Cha-no-yu is often severely criticized as an art of formalities. But this is a misconception. It is the fault of man, not of Tea that the soul of the forms has been destroyed. What can be more alive and vigorous than the law? How many have killed Tea by misapprehending the profound significance of the rite! How long has the true spirit of the forms been fading! If in conforming with the rite we feel fettered, we have not yet mastered it. We had better not trifle with Tea in its outer forms. We must not make light of them. When the forms are complete, Tea should be a living thing. Real Tea is free and flexible in its forms.
The greatest achievement of the arts is the discovery of the law. Teaism is one of the Ways through which the law of beauty is discovered.
It was the Tea Masters themselves who truly loved things, and because of them the things were endowed with value. But they did not claim that the right to love things was exclusively theirs. The objects they cared for are worthy of love by any person at any time, any place. The Masters were not partial in their choosing, nor was their choice eccentric or peculiar. They never looked at things subjectively, but received them just as they were. Naturally, the objects they loved are worthy of universal love.
True lovers cannot but share their love with others. These utensils, because they were so greatly loved, call out: "Look at us!" They will not be out-rivaled by any noted masterpiece.
Those who have eyes to see cannot help but entertain a warm affection for the Masters who discovered this beauty. Kindred spirits commune with each other. In the utensils the Masters chose for all people. They established a communal focus. If we cannot meet, the fault lies with us and not with the utensils, much less with the Masters. All people invariably love what they loved, and this is because they loved objectively and not subjectively. Their love embraces the love of all mankind. If we find anything truly lovable, we love it in the same way as they did.
Therefore, we must feel that the things they loved were the most lovable things. If beautiful things are found which they did not discover they will be seen to have the same qualities as those they loved. The objects of their love stand for all things lovable. When our love for things deepens, we shall be aware that we turn to the beauty they loved. Should we happen to meet a thing of excellent quality, we long to show it to the Masters who are gone more than to anyone else. When we speak about the beautiful, we are in fact speaking about them. It can even be said that all beautiful things are ever being seen as if by them; and all eyes are embraced in theirs.
It follows that the things they loved are what all people wish to love. So it is with the tea utensils. Through them the Tea Masters expressed the universal aspects of beauty.
Thus, the Tea Masters made an extraordinary achievement; in the utensils they selected, they presented us with the final criterion of ideal beauty. The cult has faithfully fulfilled its part in diffusing this gift. The people were given a simple rule with which to measure the mystery called beauty. Can one offer a more wonderful gift? It was given to all, to the world. That is an infallible standard which no one can possibly misuse. The votaries of Cha-no-yu were not its sole beneficiaries; it is serviceable to all people just as is a foot-rule. To measure quite plainly and easily the degree of inexplicable beauty!
That it is not at all complicated is the greatest wonder. It is the simplest rule in the world. How does it measure? In a single epithet: by the word shibui. Nothing else whatever. But that is quite enough to make it function perfectly. The world may abound with different aspects of beauty. The lovely, the powerful, the gay, the smart—all belong to the beautiful. Each person, according to his disposition and environment, will feel a special affinity to one or another aspect. But when his taste grows more refined, he will necessarily arrive at the beauty which is shibui. Beauty cannot rest until it reaches this point. If one seeks depth in beauty, this stage must be attained some day. Many a term will serve to denote the secret of beauty, but this is the final word. Our Tea Masters pressed their conception of consummate beauty with this word as standard.
It follows that all people must learn the use of this word in their judgment of the beautiful. With this as a criterion, we can see clearly the things in which the Masters took delight. We can also understand their ways of seeing things. We poor mortals can, with the help of this fundamental word, measure the qualities of beauty. We shall therefore be sure to estimate correctly, no matter what the subject. Shibui is the sesame to open the doors to the infinite mysteries of beauty.
The Japanese are fortunate in that they comprehend this word. Of this precious adjective they are making everyday use. Even the ignorant continually utter this word in their casual talk. They often go so far as to apply it to test the quality of their own taste. Even those who pursue the gay and gaudy are aware, deep down in their hearts, of the profundity of shibui beauty. This is the canon for beauty for all Japanese people. Do other peoples possess an equivalent? The lack of the word will mean the lack of the idea and fact. With the exception of this little Japanese word shibui, there is no such simple word, in the vocabulary of any nation, to indicate the criterion for the highest beauty. And that word is not expressed by difficult Chinese characters. Neither did the Masters borrow an abstract word of the intellect. They employed a simple adjective shibui, to describe a profound, unassuming, quiet feeling. Such a connotation was possible in the Orient alone, perhaps.
We also have the word wabi, bequeathed to us by Basho, our greatest Haiku poet. Though especially votaries of Haiku poetry realize its full significance, wabi is the objective for which we all strive—literati as well as laymen. But to expect its full comprehension by all people would be asking too much. For the idea cannot be demonstrated by physical sense; it must be conveyed by formless spirit. On the contrary, shibui is communicable by matter. It can be demonstrated in shape, in color, and in pattern. In the Tea utensils with their simplicity of shape, tranquillity of surface, mellow sombreness of coloring, chaste beauty of figure—in these living realities the essence of the word can be captured, even by inferior intellects. That Tea Masters have shown beauty in the shape of concrete things is their virtue and a fact which cannot be overlooked. Shibusa is not something distant, intangible, but a reality at hand. It suggests the abstract by means of the concrete. It is a mirror reflecting inner nature.
Wabi and shibusa, then, stand for one and the same thing. But whereas the word wabi belongs to the vocabulary of the select few, shibusa is overheard in the common parlance of the masses. How fortunate that there exists such a word, leading the people to an understanding of beauty! No, it leads the people to the shibui beauty, to ultimate beauty, to beauty consummate. This is the incomparable legacy which the Masters of Tea have bequeathed to us and which we, the Japanese, all share as the criterion for profoundest beauty. Can there be a greater marvel?
The chosen vessels are of the rarest quality. Something out of the common must lie hidden there, for we are never weary of admiring them. They are flawless treasures, possessing the so-called Ten Virtues of a masterpiece. Of that we may be assured.
If what the Masters had marvelled at had been something merely unusual, they would have been nothing exceptional. Anyone could have done that. But the Masters' eyes were more penetrating. They did not see the extraordinary in the extraordinary. Therein lies their merit. They did not draw their cherished treasures out of the valuable, the expensive, the luxurious, the elaborate or the exceptional. They selected them from the plain, the natural, the homely, the simple and the normal. They explored the uneventful, normal world for the most unusual beauty. Can anything be more uncommon than to see the uncommon in the commonplace?
Most of us today have grown so commonplace that we cannot see the extraordinary save in the exceptional. The early Tea Masters apprehended the profundity of normal things. Out of the unregarded ordinary articles they selected the exquisite Tea things.
Is it not incredible that the tea cups and tea caddies, now ranked as O-Meibutsu (great masterpieces), were once the commonest of wares?
Truth always nestles close to us. The Tea Masters cast their caressing eyes upon their surroundings. Their vision encompassed articles of everyday use, the things everybody ignores. We might say that the Tea Masters had great boldness. Yet nothing was more natural. Even the common articles made for daily use become endowed with beauty when they are loved. The humble are receptive to love. These articles were born pure in heart, and were nurtured with nature's blessing. They are sound both in mind and substance. If they had been too delicate, or too showy, they could not have served as utensils. Is not sincerity their primary virtue? It is no wonder they radiate true beauty. To such is the kingdom of heaven promised; the humble are closely related to beauty. These Masterpieces were once humble household utensils. Their beauty shines forth from their natural simplicity. Those articles which lack the noble quality of humility cannot be made into good Tea things.
The Cult of Tea is another Gospel of Holy Poverty. Woe unto extravagant Tea rooms, Tea utensils, and numberless false adherents of Tea today, who violate the ritual of Tea!
Let us now put the matter this way. Did the Tea Masters choose those beautiful utensils from the merely decorative, from art for art's sake? By no means! Utensils meant for practical life were their best and constant friends. It was not lofty, unapproachable beauty, but beauty interwoven with the actualities of life that the Tea Masters found. They formed stronger attachment for visible beauty than for ideological beauty. They sought beauty not in the brain but in life itself. They drew beauty to them, so to speak, and made it their familiar. They perceived the essence of beauty in intimacy. Thus they combined beauty and life. Is it possible to find a more impressive example in the history of esthetic appreciation?
Naturally, that which strongly attracted their hearts corresponds with what today we call the arts of utility. They found a profounder beauty in the practical art born to answer the immediate needs of life than in the fine arts born for beauty's sake alone. They did not seek beauty apart from actual living. They found the highest and noblest aspects of beauty in the articles close to life. This was their insight and inner experience. To them the beautiful and the craftsmanlike were synonymous. In this respect, they made a striking contrast to the esthetes who set value upon the merely artistic and scorn craftsmanship. Esthetes try to appreciate beauty through ideas. Cha-no-yu would not have come into being had this been its case.
Everything that concerns Cha-no-yu, to say nothing of the Tea utensils in particular, is related in one way or another to craftsmanship. In the hanging scrolls, for instance, we consider first their harmony with the mounting. Unless they show a craft value, they are never used. The Tea room is a synthesis of craftsmanship. The Tea garden is a craft adjustment of nature. The whole process of preparing and serving Tea is nothing more than a craft movement of life. Each item has a beauty germinated in utility and rooted deep in real life. Tea is the patterning of the practical life, patterning in esthetic dimensions. Isolated from craftsmanship, Tea cannot maintain its way. To apprehend beauty in crafts and crafts in beauty—that is the characteristic of Tea. Who else could exhort this with more conviction than the Tea Masters? They never spoke of beauty except in connection with actual life. In this way they have conferred everlasting beauty upon the practical arts. The Way of Tea is the estheticism of craftsmanship.
Cha-no-yu, however, does not end with seeing, nor with using, and still less with its forms. To be sure, these are important elements. But it goes still deeper. Unless it leads to the Ultimate, it is not a Way. But since it is the Way, it cannot be superficial. Many patronize Tea, yet few indeed are admitted to the sanctuary of Tea; the Way is beyond superficial reach. Not everyone can practise Tea with full comprehension. When practised by a novice it is apt to become a mere plaything, or at most, a pastime. When we make a little progress, we are captivated by our own cleverness, but the Way will have nothing to do with self-conceit, affectation, fancifulness, or artifice. In this present age there is still an apparent enthusiasm for Tea; but we cannot say that the Way itself is thriving. If we look back, we cannot but regret its present decline. We shall be struck with the realization that there is not even one real Man of Tea living. The Way requires the profundity of the inner consciousness. Imperfection of skill, inferiority in the vessels, are of far less importance; if not mentally prepared, we fall little short of committing an overwhelming error. Without the proper depth of mind, Tea is not Tea. We cannot rightly call it Tea.
Harmony, reverence, purity and serenity are the inculcated traditional principles of Tea. But these demand spiritual preparation. It is no child's play. How can it be achieved without long, concentrated effort and endeavour? The Way leads us to greater heights—from the teaching of things to that of the spirit. Things are dead unless the mind animates them. We must strive until the possession of noble things becomes one with the possession of the noble mind. Unless a thing attracts the mind it is not a thing; unless the mind gives life to things it is not as yet complete. Many a beautiful thing may exist, but it cannot of itself become a utensil. It must first be the manifestation of the mind. Without the active mind, how can objects have life? Unless the mind is sincere, the objects themselves cannot be sincere. Matter and spirit are one in the process of Tea Enlightenment. But though many provide themselves with things, very few endeavour to cultivate their minds. All those who clothe themselves in priestly robes are not worthy to be called monks; true monks only, deserve to wear such robes. Many speak of Tea. But how many can be Tea monks?
Tea is a religion of beauty. It can claim the name Cha-no-yu only when it is exalted to a religion. Until the mind is ready, we cannot hope to enter the sanctuary of Tea. Is it not in order to prepare the mind that we handle the tea utensils? Unless we have associated with things so intimately that we have purified our minds through them, it cannot be said that we really see things or use them. Merely to toy with things is to defile them; to defile them is to commit a sacrilege of the spirit. We may say that if the heart is stained we cannot enjoy divine intercourse with things. Until a utensil meets a sincere man, it cannot be called a worthy utensil.
The sanctuary of Tea is the sanctuary of the laws of beauty. The various sacred rules there current are comparable with those of a religion. Beauty and Faith are after all but phases of Truth. Tea and Zen have been closely connected since early times, as is most natural. Studying Zen through the intermediary of things is Cha-no-yu. A Tea cup, as well as a flower vase, makes the best theme for Zen meditation. Is there any difference between the contemplation of the arrangement of a tree or a stone in the Tea garden and that of the meaning of a line or a passage of the sacred writings?
The quiet, simple Tea room, too corresponds with the silent meditation hall in a Zen monastery. Are the various Tea rituals also different from the regulations for the daily life of the monks? To realize beauty and to practise belief are one and the same thing. Such sayings as "To be is to be Buddha" and "Matter and spirit, one and the same" mean that the revelation of beauty and the revelation of Buddha are identical in their solemnity, warmth, purity and peacefulness, and a Tea Master and a Zen monk are two in body, but one in spirit, differing only in appearance. To study beauty in Tea is to dwell in the state of absolute enlightenment. If we want to realize in ourselves the Communion of Love and Reverence and practise Cleanliness and Sincerity, we must be immaculate in spirit. Cha-no-yu is, after all, a way of self-discipline. To the self-conceited, the haughty, the luxurious, the impure, the affected—to all these the sacred gate of Beauty is inaccessible. How numerous are those who covet things, and how few are those who devote themselves to the enlightenment of their spirits. But without the latter it is impossible to practise Tea. The Way of Tea is indubitably a self-disciplinary way.
This teaching is already of five centuries' standing. But what has age to do with its essence? It is as with Zen, ever fresh and vigorous in spite of its antiquity. There must lie latent some incorruptible vitality which has permitted it to continue to attract generation after generation. Some believe it to be a mere formality of the past. But if the rituals are stagnant, it is because of misapplication, it is not because of the Tea Ceremony itself.
Old though the doctrines of Confucius and Mencius are, the moral law will always go back to them, a well ever fresh if only people will draw from it. In like sense, the guilt of killing the spirit of Tea in its outer forms is to be laid to would-be Masters, and not to those free from the influence of both people and time.
Man may discard Tea, but he cannot do away with the law of Tea. The Way of Tea is the law of beauty. If a new form of beauty comes into being, Tea also will find a new form. Even if there be two forms of beauty, old and new, there can be no priority and posterity to the laws of beauty. Tea is not a kind of beauty, but the law of beauty.
All who wish to study and live beauty in their lives must be at home in the principles of Tea. Seeking after beauty and Tea are the same thing. It cannot be otherwise.
The esthetic sensibility and culture of the Japanese may be attributed to the discipline of Tea through many years. But at present when the power of seeing beauty has so sadly fallen away, the mission of the Tea Ceremony appears still greater. Above all else, anyone who intends to establish the Kingdom of Beauty here on earth cannot help reflecting upon the magnificent achievements of our Tea Masters. We deem it our mission to prove ourselves their legitimate successors, thereby to revive the true spirit of Tea.
1 An untranslatable Japanese word. Literally it means "tastefully astringent."
2 Another untranslatable Japanese word the literal meaning of which is "forlorness."
3 Shibusa—noun form of Shibui.
4 The criteria whereby to test the beauty of utensils.