|Japanese:||Wa kei sei jaku|
|English translation:||Harmony, respect, purity, tranquility|
|Box:||Wooden with card sleeve|
This phrase is attributed to the tea master Sen Rikyu (1522-1591) and reflects the essence of the tea ceremony, which has a long association with Zen.
“Harmony” suggests the sense of unity and oneness—with nature, between host and guest, and among the guests at a tea gathering—reflected in the seasonal selection of food and the aesthetic choices of tea wares. This harmony suggests an understanding of the rhythms of the gathering, but also the ability to change accordingly.
“Respect” is demonstrated in the highly ritualised gestures of the tea ceremony—from the interactions with the guests to the handling and appreciation of the utensils. Every refined and precise movement reflects respect.
“Purity” reveals the appreciation for cleanliness, both physical and spiritual. Before a tea gathering, the host meticulously cleans the utensils, and in so doing also purifies his or her mind and heart in preparation. Similarly, as the guests stroll in the garden towards the tea house, they rinse their hands and mouths in stone basins, and pass through small gates. These actions signify the cleansing of one’s self and the leaving behind of “dust” from the outside world.
“Tranquility” is achieved when the previous three principles are mastered—the quiet and stillness of jaku is the state in which ideas and thoughts are extinguished.
Shinzan Roshi uses a basic running style script to write these four characters. The strokes within each character are largely linked from one to the next, creating a fluid dancing quality. Yet each character remains individual and distinct, perhaps reflecting their individual importance as principles in tea ceremony.
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