静寂(せいじゃく; seijaku): quiteness, tranquility
Seijaku, or finding a moment of tranquility in the middle of our busy lives, has been more challenging than normal this year. In the beginning, my largest concern revolved around completing my graduate program. Now we are facing a pandemic, a fight for racial and gender equality, the declining wellbeing of our planet... It feels like there is only bad news whenever I turn on the tv or scroll through my social media feeds. I often wondered, "How do we achieve a calm state of mind when it feels like the world is falling apart around us?" At times, it felt impossible. I think it was really helpful to make of list of all the little things I could do to make a change, whether it was to donate my time or money, to protest, or to vote. It's a bit weird; I feel like my mind is the most still when I am taking action.
The two characters, Sei (Quiet, quietness), jaku(tranquility), do not only refer to the silent, soundless environments, but also suggest the power of maintaining a peaceful mind.
Regardless of what countries we live in, who we run into every day, our minds can be easily influenced and disturbed by the outside noise. While we are sidetracked by those distractors, our minds may no longer be as peaceful as a still lake and may no longer be able to support
us with the power and energy. As the famous Chinese philosopher Lao Tsu put, To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.
With a bowl of tea, we can find ourselves gradually calming down, returning to our mindful and peaceful state, to the state of sei and jaku. We believe that these two simple characters have all the power and energy we need.
Tea students in the Urasenke Urbana-Champaign association