Welcome to the new Cobb Institute Blog.
The practice of a process philosophy in daily life has been the topic of many discussions within the Cobb Institute. What better way to focus on putting process in praxis than to explore it through a blog? We hope to include many voices on this topic over time.
Whitehead wrote his “philosophy of organism” as a cosmology that explains how our world works, but it is up to us to create a way to apply this to our daily lives. We might ask if this is even possible or necessary. I would venture to say, "Yes." The very fact that this question keeps arising tells us that there is a lure to find ways to bring this cosmology into an everyday awareness that gives meaning to our lives. In the past, Whitehead’s process cosmology has often been layered over reflections on religion, giving rise to what became known as process theology. But is there another approach we might take that would lead us to find a process practice that stands on its own, yet includes such reverence and spirit? The praxis of process almost needs it's own category.
I am confident that I am not the first person to turn to an Asian concept as an approach for process practice, but maybe I am the first to explore Japanese tea ceremony as a guide. I have studied and practiced the art of Chado for ten years through the Chado Urasenke Tankokai LA Association, which is part of the Urasenke School of Tea in Kyoto.
Chado means “the way of tea.” Cha=tea, do=way. The word “do” places us somewhere between religion and philosophy. It is connected with mindful action. We understand that process is more comfortable in the realm of verbs over nouns, with doing over being. The concept of “do” is about action. It is about the way we do things. Maybe that is an idea we can borrow for a process practice.
Chado developed over hundreds of years, and it is a living practice. New ceremonies are added, and the practice expands. A Iemoto, or Grand Tea Master of the tea lineage, may make a procedural change or add a new tamae (ceremony). This keeps it rooted in the past but not bound to it. Chado can move forward and take a new path.
The interesting thing about Chado is that it is an entire reverent practice built around drinking tea. I can certainly drink tea without a ceremony, but the Japanese tea ceremony exists as a “do,” a way to be in relationship with the host, other guests, the simple movements and etiquette of the ceremony, and finally with the bowl of tea. This is why I believe that we can build practices around or alongside a process philosophy.
I have already experienced something identifiable that stands out in a subtle way within our community of process-relational people at the Cobb Institute. It is a warmth that I believe comes from the knowledge that we are interconnected, and awareness we affect each other. People can be welcoming in any community without process but there is something more. It is something that one must “feel.” As an underlying philosophy, it becomes part of our worldview.
In tea ceremony, there is a practice on a cold day where the host, before making tea, warms the bowl first by adding hot water from the kettle. The water is swirled around slowly and gracefully before being poured out. Then host begins to make the tea in the pre-warmed bowl. This is a thoughtful practice with the comfort of the guest in mind. It suggests a caring heart on the part of the host. In the process community, I often feel as if people are warming the bowl before serving the tea.
I feel cared for.
Kathleen Reeves performing a tea ceremony