Beginner’s Mind

Every Tea teacher I ever met has emphasized the beginner’s mind. I have a long way to go before I understand this principle, but I learned a bit about the meaning while I was in New York.

After a long week, in which I had attended a computer course and done my best to see all the sights of New York City, I felt ready to do some Tea. Late Friday evening I looked up the New York branch on the web. They had classes on Saturday. Since it was late I had no time to make arrangements in advance. I figured I could just go there in the morning and ask politely if I could join for this one session.

When they did not have room in their class I was very disappointed. Why? Their web page gave no indication that drop-in students were permitted, on the contrary, it gave the impression that it was a bit of hassle to become a student. Still I expected that it would work out. Why? Having done Tea in several different cities (Oslo, Sapporo, Kyoto, Prague, and London) I have always had the distinguished pleasure of meeting very accommodating and kind Tea people. So I had come to expect an unreasonable amount of kindness from Tea people. Which is very much not a beginner’s mind.

The first Tea person I met was Mr. Westad. He had a presentation at Kunstindustrimuseet in Oslo. After the presentation, I asked if there was any books one could learn Tea from. He said there wasn’t, but I could come to his home and he would teach me. I remember how happy and surprised I was by this invitation.

I think in this situation that a beginner’s mind would approach the New York branch with no expectation of being accommodated, and would not be disappointed by this result either.