Haibun Journal


7 February 2021

I went to Island Ford today and had a session with one of my "Zen masters" -- a small flowing creek that I initially sit with before taking to higher elevations in my hillwalking.

Today she said: “Sometimes you have to flow around obstacles. When you do, ask: 'Who or what is it that flows'?” I'm treating this like a good wato (huatou: phrase to meditate upon).

Later, I climbed up into the hills until I found a nice stone perch overlooking the river, surrounded by sparsely-leafed mountain laurels and rock-clinging pines.

The river is called the “Chattahoochee.” Besides the unfortunate associations with a really bad country song, there appears to be mixed opinions on the real meaning of the name of the river. One translation on a local tourism site is: “River of Marked Stones." Other people with greater knowledge of the Mvskoke (Muscogee, or Creek) language - the origin language of the name - say this is not entirely accurate.

Looking at a Muscogee dictionary one finds the word ‘hvtce’ - the Anglicized ‘v’ is pronounced ‘u’ - so the word is “hut’chee’. This means “river.” Also in the Mvskoke language, the word ‘chaddo’ means “rocks.” So, Chaddohvtce... “Chaddo'hutchee” is: River of Rocks.

An apt place-name if there ever was one.

Being one who plays with words, as I sat listening to the river today I found myself pondering the similarity between the Mvskoke word ‘chaddo’ and the Japanese word: chadō, which means "The Way of Tea" (a spiritual practice first developed by Murata Jukō, 1423-1502, under Zen master Ikkyū Sojun's influence). I found it a compelling alignment of terms precisely because one of the places I prefer to practice chadō is beside "The Chaddo."

There is a lot of variation and diversity of practice in chadō, sometimes referred to as sadō. There’s Ryūrei, whereby the tea ceremony is held at a small table. There’s Hakobi temae, also known as chanoyu, which is the classic powdered matcha tea ceremony in a tea room (especially furthered and cultivated by Sen no Rikyū, 1522-1591). There’s also Chabako temae, whereby all of the tea and tea implements are transported in a tea box using a carrying pole. In this latter case, the tea is served outside in a natural setting that evokes contemplation and poetry.

This was how Zen master Gekkai Genshō, a.k.a. Baisaō - the Old Tea Seller (1675-1763) - practiced his senchadō form of tea (using loose-leaf tea rather than powdered tea). It's the form passed onto me by my late teacher, and Baisaō's renegade Ōbaku-style of Zen was dear to her heart.

I don’t yet have a trusty tea box, but I hope ol' Grandfather Baisaō would approve of my own stylized form of practicing tea. When I go hillwalking, I always offer tobacco to honor the ancestors of the Mvskoke People and *their* chaddo. Likewise, I hold a hillwalker’s version of senchadō to honor the Wayfaring spiritual ancestors of my late teacher’s spiritual lineage.

Up to now, I'd come to think of my version of tea as Tohocha” (徒歩茶) - "Tea-On-Foot," or hillwalking-tea. After today, I call it "chadō-by-The Chaddo."


bathed in a pine wind

above the River of Rocks

hailstones in my tea