Life Managed as Constant Guest

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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