Jason Wirth shares centuries-old Japanese tea ceremony with Fine Arts students

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The Japanese tea ceremony or chanoyu began with Yabunouchi Kenchū Jōchi, who lived from 1536-1627.

"Why do any spiritual exercises survive? They push against the tempo of time," Wirth said, adding that the tea ceremony is a matter of living completely in the moment, being completely present.

"There's a similarity to the ritual of the old Latin Mass where every gesture is prescribed," Fr. Venker said.

Wirth noted that Catholic reforms of Vatican II opened the door for Jesuits to embrace Zen teachings and practices. As with meditation, clearing the mind is also central to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, he said.

"If you live your life like a tea ceremony, it's a different life-one of attentiveness, peace, equanimity and passion. It rewires your brain to process the world differently. In this hyperactive age of incessant distractions, it can seem boring to some, yet the quality of mind and heart that practices like this cultivate are awesome because you're at the depths of life in all its beauty and ephemerality. Tea is a way of slowing down and being in a different world-the one we live in, not the one we run away from."

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 Jason Wirth, Core Philosophy Lecturer Elizabeth Sikes and Eddie Salazar in Jesuit Mission and Identity lead a weekly Zen meditation group called the Seattle University EcoSangha Thursday evenings in the Narthex of the Chapel of St. Ignatius. Newcomers are welcome. They also offer a four-week Zen meditation workshop on campus each quarter. Contact Jason Wirth ( wirthj@seattleu.edu) or Eddie Salazar ( salazare@seattleu.edu)to find out more.

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