...as your eyes slowly scroll down the calligraphy at the right, the beauty of each consecutive character.... imagine that you have just entered a small tea house, 10 feet square. The tatami mats firmly cushion your knees... the quiet of nature and the warmth of natural light fills the room.
This scroll occupies a little alcove to your right as you entered. It is accompanied by a single fresh flower in a simple but elegant vase to remind you of its beauty and impermanence as well as the abiding truth it reveals in each moment.
In Japanese, this calligraphy is Nichi Nichi Kore Konichi. It clarifies the meaning of the art of tea -- an art in which you now participate with the eye/the mind.
Gentleness of spirit governs the whole procedure. The general atmosphere of the tea room tends to create this kind of gentleness all around--gentleness of touch, gentleness of odor, gentleness of light, and gentleness of sound.
You take up a teacup, handmade and irregularly shaped, the glaze probably not uniformly overlaid, but in spite of this primitiveness the little utensil has a peculiar charm of gentleness, quietness, and unobtrusiveness.
The incense burning is never strong and stimulating, but gentle and pervading. The windows and screens are another source of a gentle prevailing charm, for the light admitted into the room is always soft and restful and conducive to a meditative mood. The breeze passing through the needles of the old pine tree harmoniously blends with the sizzling of the iron kettle over the fire.
The entire environment thus reflects the first precept offered by Shotoku in the year 604: "What is most valuable is gentleness of spirit; what is most essential is harmony with others."
With gentleness of spirit and harmony, Nichi Nichi Kore Konichi. This is a discipline and a truth to realize. It means, "Every day is a good day." A Zen teacher explains: