Gongfu Girl is on vacation. She hopes you will enjoy this excerpt from Tea Life, Tea Mind by Soshitsu Sen XV.
“Purity” through the simple act of cleaning, is an important part of a tea gathering – in the preparation beforehand, the actual service of tea, and, after the guests have left, the storing away of the utensils and the final closing of the tearoom. Such actions as clearing the dust from the room and the dead leaves from the garden path all represent clearing the “dust of the world,” or the worldly attachments, from one’s heart and mind. It is then, after putting aside material concerns, that people and things can be perceived in their true state. The act of cleaning thus enables one to sense the pure and sacred essence of things, man and nature.
When the host is cleaning and arranging the areas that the guests will occupy, he is establishing order also within himself; this order is essential. As he attends to the details of the tearoom and garden path, he is no less attending to his own consciousness and to the state of mind in which he will serve his guests.