Sorry for not writing over the last month. I had a wonderful summer holiday back in the states for about four weeks visiting my husband and other family members. Some highlights from August included seeing a black bear in Big Bend National Park, going for a beautiful swim in one of Austin’s many swimming holes and of course all the time remembering and seeing family. Surprisingly, it was cooler in Austin than Kyoto when I left, so that was also refreshing. Japan is still what Portlanders would consider VERY humid but it is so much better now in early September than what it was during the height of summer!
I arrived back in Japan on September 1 and the four new kohai arrived on September 2 and 3. I was a little nervous to meet them at first but everyone is friendly and settling in well to the routines! We have students from Bulgaria, Belgium, Finland and south Florida. This is with our group from Ukraine, Poland, Romania, and Portland. Since our group of four is officially sempai now, our focus has to shift not only on what we are doing ourselves but also to assist the other students in learning about the program, the school, the neighborhood and Kyoto. Luckily there are 16 new students in other gakuen programs, so there is a push from the whole school to incorporate the new students as quickly as possible. The older students at the school are working diligently to be as helpful and welcoming as possible.
I received preliminary notice that my keiko chakai as host will be at the end of October. I’m beginning to brain storm various themes and ideas. I’m very excited since October is the most “wabi” month. Wabi is a deep concept that I won’t get in to now, but roughly the idea can be initially thought of as “imperfect beauty.” I will be the first guest for the mid-November chakai of my classmate. Part of learning chado, the way of tea, is being able to create harmony between hosts and guests, and this is done in hosting events like chakai or chaji. Daisosho-sama often doesn’t like the English phrase “tea ceremony” because it sort of sterilzes the “-do”concept of chado. The “-do” is the path of enlightenment through doing something. (see other examples like kendo, aikido, shodo, etc.) Those of you who have experienced the inbetween space when you do something (whether it’s gardening, or art, or music, etc.) and your mind is quiet. The point when your self or mind’s voice disappears and you have to live completely in the present and all that exists is you and this thing that you are doing. When you are so engrossed in happily or contentedly doing something and you don’t realize that hours have passed since you last came up for air. This feeling takes us a littler further toward enlightenment. The term “enlightenment” can be quite daunting and hippy-sounding to Westerners, so one could also say the path to peace and joy and gratitude and contentment. Hard things to find for any person! So that’s why you must practice how to find that feeling. Thus, “-do.”
I’m attaching two pretty pictures from my trip back to Texas. One taken at Big Bend National Park and the other from Terlingua’s ghost town.