SJC Brooklyn honors students took part in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony at Setsugekka East Village tea house on March 16 as part of their honors cultural concentration. The tea ceremony, an integral part of Zen Buddhist practice for several centuries in Japan and China, is one of several activities students will partake in to prepare for their January 2019 trip to Japan.
In this concentration, students learn about the relationship that exists between Zen and existential philosophy. By reading such texts as “Zen Mind, Beginners’ Mind” by well-known Zen master Shunryu Suzuki and essays written by the philosopher Martin Heidegger, students learn to analyze the similarities and differences between Zen and existential philosophy. They also come to appreciate the importance of these schools of thought in the Japanese intellectual tradition.
Tea Sipping … a Fresh Experience
“By bringing our students to a tea ceremony, I want them to learn about an important Zen concept: ‘Ichi-go ichi-e (Japanese: 一期一会, lit.) one time, one meeting,'” said Peter Lin, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at SJC Brooklyn. “Each moment we have only occurs once, and each sip of tea is a fresh experience. I want my students to learn that our time is precious. That we live our lives with this freshness, without conflict or opposition. This is the spirit of Zen.”
Tea House Visit Followed by More Cultural Experiences
This trip is the first of several cultural experiences planned throughout 2018 to provide students with opportunities to learn about Japanese culture, thought and aesthetics. Upcoming trips include a potential visit to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden to see the cherry blossoms bloom. The students also plan to visit several cultural festivals scheduled during the spring and summer. For more information about the Honors Program at SJC Brooklyn and its global and cultural programs, please click here.