When we receive a bowl of tea, the etiquette is that we say “osaki ni” to the next guest, thank the host for making the tea, and lift the bowl in “kansha” or gratitude before we turn the bowl and drink the tea.
This kansha is not just gratitude for host making tea. It is also gratitude for the person who grew the tea, the person who picked the tea, the person who processed the tea, packaged the tea, and transported the tea. It is also gratitude to the person who made the charcoal to boil the water to make tea, the person who harvested the wood to make the charcoal, and built the kiln, cut the charcoal, packaged it and shipped it. It is also gratitude to the person who made the tea bowl, fired it, built the kiln and dug the clay. It is also the person who made the tatami on which we are sitting, the person who harvested the grass, wove the mat, installed the tatami. Gratitude also for the kettle maker, the architect who designed the tea house, and people who built it.
In fact, kansha for everyone who made it possible for me to drink and enjoy this bowl of tea. The more I think about it, the more people I have to thank to make this moment possible. Even for something as simple as enjoying a bowl of tea, so many people contribute to it.
Here is a book about One man’s journey to thank everyone for his morning cup of coffee. It is amazing how many people he found to thank on this journey and the lessons that he learned from it.
It is like pulling a thread in a cloth that leads to more threads. And like the fabric, I see that people are interconnected and woven into my life at this moment. The act of kansha and acknowleging the role people play in my life has made me a more empathetic and generous person. We can simply acknowlege people by being present and thanking them sincerely. The receptionist who checks you in, the bank teller, the waitress, or grocery clerk are all woven into your life, if only for a moment.
I don’t know how many times people have said it made their day when I have looked them in the eyes and (called them by name if possible) sincerely said thank you.
So the next time we stop and think about our lives, Kansha, in gratitude for all the people who made this moment possible