A person with beautiful conduct and graceful manners captures attention. The current Grandmaster of the Ueda Sōko Tradition, Ueda Sōkei, describes this beautiful aura as rin toshite utsukushii or 'dignified beauty'. In the Ueda Sōko Tradition we aim to make this beauty our own through weekly practice, and by observing hareh and keh days. You develop a character of dignity and grace when your lifestyle allows a variation of hareh and keh days.
In old Japan, there was a clear distinction between hareh (auspicious) days and keh (inauspicious) days. Festival days, celebrations, and special events were regarded as hareh days. On these days people would wear their best clothes, prepare lavish feasts and engage in festive activities. In contrast, keh days were observed in a more mundane fashion, making sure to be diligent, conscientious and frugal.
To state the obvious, our current lifestyles don't have regard for hareh and keh days. It seems every day is a hareh day. It's become a matter of course to enjoy lavish meals, dress our best and busy ourselves with work and projects every day. To reinstate the variation of hareh and keh days, I allocate one keh day a week where I fast (abstain from food) while practicing the tea ceremony and studying. This change in my 'never-ending hareh' has been significant for calmness of mind, strength of character, and affinity with nature. By reinstating a keh day in my week, hareh days become more productive and vibrant. Examples of hareh days in the tea ceremony are celebrations of annual and seasonal events.
To bring back the variety of hareh and keh days into your life, you don't have to fast one day a week. You might observe one keh day a week by simply spending a quiet day doing house work, studying, or practicing your art. And anyone can mark hareh days by celebrating annual events and the seasons. Most countries have seasonal variations, you can celebrate the transition of the seasons with a festive 'hanami' picnic with friends to admire the beautiful spring blossoms, perhaps be under a jacaranda tree if you live in Australia. And on an autumn evening when the moon is at its most brilliant for the year, you can get friends together for a lively gathering to admire the lunar view.
Celebrate hareh days and exert your full potential. But balance them with quieter, keh days. It's because of taking it easy on keh days that hareh days burst
with vigour. It's relatively easy to set hareh days with our busy lifestyles, it's the keh days we have to work on reinstating. You need a strong will to reduce the hectic pace
of your life and make time to relax and find calm. For this reason, distinguishing hareh and keh days in your life gives you a strong character. With a variety of hareh
and keh days, you increasingly become more relaxed and composed. A strong and composed character radiates the dignified beauty ideal we pursue in the Ueda Sōko Tradition of Tea.
- Adam Sōmu Wojciński