Let us take note of something that experience – of whatever extent – of being a Tea-guest can actually teach us all, about living in this world gracefully.
It was written by a close friend of the Founder of this School (Lord Enshū). The writer was also a spiritual director sought out by – among a multitude of others – the famous samurai-swordsman Miyamoto Musashi, and a guest often welcomed by the supremely-powerful Tokugawa family, the heads of which were shōgun, or military dictators, appointed by the Imperial Household.
153rd Abbot of the Daitoku Zen Motherhouse, he is now known by his priestly name, Takuan Sōhō Zenshi. What he wrote is this.
You, yes you born into this world
so long as you keep enduringly in mind
that you are here come as its guest
hardship need never prove to be your lot
Whenever a meal that this world provides
tastes to you good of course praise it well
When another does not you are here as guest, so
address it with just as great a gusto
The heats of summer bear you must, and
since you are here as guest winter’s rigours alike
Once you recast those unruly fruits of your loins
as fellow-guests alike living in amity
shared with them all will surely result
Do but this and when you must take
your final farewell this you will find you complete
without need to repent or endure regret
And I have one thing more to add. When things go wrong, and thus disappoint you, ask yourself just this question:
Haven’t I, somewhere in my past, effectively chosen this?
Seriously considering your answer to this can often prove … surprisingly restorative. And what is this but, in another form, the following Tea-principle?
As host any guest’s blunder
is ultimately one’s own
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