Chanoyu, The Japanese Art of Tea

In 1980, during her first visit to Boulder, Colorado, Chögyam Trungpa, Rinpoche invited Mrs. Kiyoko Shibata to introduce the practice of chanoyu to his students. At that time, a handful of people began to study this centuries old contemplative practice. Rinpoche named the group Kalapa Cha.

The arrival in Nova Scotia of tea masters John Soyu McGee Sensei and Alexandre Soro Avdoulov Sensei in 2000 brought Kalapa Cha a fresh opportunity to continue the practice some of us began many years ago.

The Abode of the Equable Tiger

In 2002, McGee Sensei and Avdoulov Sensei presented the Sakyong and Shambhala with a gift of an interior tea room, constructed in Japan and shipped to Nova Scotia in pieces to be assembled on site. The tea room was built in the Halifax Shambhala Centre and officially opened by the Sakyong on November 13, 2004. He chose the name Yukoan for the tea room, which means Abode of the Equable Tiger.

The opening of Yukoan, November 2004
photo by Marvin Moore

The mission of Kalapa Cha is inseparable with Shambhala vision. As a place of practice and tranquility, Yukoan manifests outwardly the inner radiance of Shambhala. Contemplative arts and practices not only bring beauty and vividness to our lives and environment, they enable us to synchronize body and mind in the present moment.

The Practice of Chanoyu (Japanese Tea Ceremony)

Chanoyu literally means "hot water for tea." The art of Chanoyu, preparing and serving a bowl of tea, is a synthesis of many Japanese arts such as flower arranging, calligraphy, poetry, ceramics, lacquerware, cooking, architecture, gardening, and more.

As meditation in action, the practice of tea developed in Japan alongside the practice of Zen Buddhism. The tea master Sen Rikyu (1522-1591) studied tea from an early age and received Zen training at Daitoku-ji temple in Kyoto. It was Rikyu who joined the ordinary activities of daily life with contemplative practice in what has been passed down to the present as the Way of Tea.

Leaving familiar reference points of the world behind, hosts and guests create a gentle moment, without past or future. In this space of simplicity and appreciation, the student prepares and offers a bowl of tea. The practice of tea is a discipline of mindfulness and awareness, a celebration of the senses and a journey to open heart.

Hatsugama 2014

Find Contemplative Art programs in your area »