Incorporating The Four Qualities of the Tea Ceremony into Your Garden

         Unforgettable outdoor spaces have an atmosphere that integrates the four qualities defined in the Japanese Tea ceremony (as noted by the sixteenth century Japanese tea master and garden designer, Sen Rikyu).  These are:

Harmony or ‘Wa’ encourages us to align with nature and develop a positive relationship with all living things.  Harmony resides within a garden’s changing rhythms:  stormy or calm, sunny or cloudy.  It is found in the smallness of pebbles or the most lofty of trees.  Harmony allows us to revel in the evanescence of all things.

Respect or Kei can be described as reverence. It arises from a humble demeanor, consideration of others and an overarching sense of gratitude that extends to all in our daily life, animate and inanimate. Everything in a garden should be treated with a spirit of reverence.

Purity or Sei implies simplicity, the uncluttering of our mind and our environment. It found in the orderliness of  a swept garden path. It does not require absolute cleanliness as much as an attitude of openness.  Simple acts such as raking leaves are to be savored because it is the focus on the task that is celebrated.  

Tranquility or Jaku is the silent contentment that results from putting the ideals of harmony, respect and purity into practice.  It is the state of awareness that arises from being in a garden’s harmony, reverence and simplicity.


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