At presentations and demonstrations of chado, I am often asked how long I have studied, or how long you need to study to attain tea master ship. This is kind of a loaded question for me. The study of chado is so broad and so deep that it would take a lifetime to just know what it is all about, and several if not many more lifetimes to be competent at some of them, and probably another 20 more lifetimes to attain master ship in few of the disciplines.
So while I have been studying for more than 30 years, not all of them have been diligent study, as the first 5-7 years, I was not a good student to the exasperation of my sensei. She called me the flying girl, because I could not keep my focus long enough to get through a temae, let alone sit through a whole class with concentration. But somewhere around 10 years, I began to get serious and began to apply myself. That meant that I studied and practiced temae between weekly classes, and I practiced sitting seiza so that I could sit longer.
I cannot say that my study of chado has been continuous, and I can truthfully admit that I almost quit any number of times. But something always drew me back. That my life lacked something when I was not studying chado. I would attend a chakai, or hear a speaker or read something and I would become inspired all over again. When I made the commitment to train for my one year at Midorikai, my sensei became so strict with me, that sometimes I thought I would never be ready to go to Japan.
After I returned from Japan, I wanted to share so much of what I learned. I was so grateful to all of the sensei who poured the time, effort and love into me in the hopes that I would go home and teach the way of tea. I am still so grateful to those teachers, and yes my sempai, who were patient with me and had such high expectations of me. I also thank most sincerely Hounsai Daisosho, who gave me the opportunity, means and provision to spend that magical year in Kyoto with the hopes I would help fulfill the mission of “ichiwan kara peacefulness” peace through a bowl of tea.
So for the last 20 years, I have tried, first with Bonnie Mitchell sensei in Seattle and on my own when I moved to Portland, to continue my studies. There is still so much I do not know. And yet, that is part of the draw — to find out more. Through meeting people who know more, reading, independent research, trying new things, giving myself projects, teaching others, I am learning more each day.
And as Torigai sensei told me in Kyoto, to pass on what I have learned because knowledge gained, if it is not shared, is knowledge lost. How much more do I have to go to attain master ship in chado — many more lifetimes.