Monday, January 28, 2013

“Immerse your heart and mind fully in it alone…”

Feeling the need for a bit more Zen in my life, I’ve been re-reading the Zen Tea Record. Here’s a great passage:

The original significance of chanoyu lies not in appraising the quality of utensils, not in scrutinizing the circumstances and arrangements of the occasion for preparing tea, but solely in praxis: entering into the samadhi of handling utensils and discerning your orignal nature (honsho).
            To seek self-nature through adopting the forms of chanoyu is none other than samadhi in which tea utensils are treated with the One Mind, which is lord alone, undrifting. If you are to take up the teascoop, immerse your heart and mind fully in it alone and give no thought whatsoever to other matters. This is to treat it first and last. When you replace it, do so deeply conveying your heart and mind to it as in the beginning. Such treatment is not restricted to the teascoop; it applies to all the implements that are handled.
            When, upon putting the utensil down, you release it and withdraw your hand, without in the slightest dismissing it from your awareness, shift the mind just as it is and convey it to the next utensil to be treated. Without relaxing the spirit at any point, prepare tea as the forms (kata) prescribe. This is called “performing in the continuity of spirit.” It is wholly the functioning of chanoyu-samadhi.


This is such great practice. Which is not to suggest that a state of mind like this is in any way easy to achieve, but achieving isn’t the point. Making the effort (and then the lack of effort!) is the whole thing.

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