With a smile on their faces and a warm cup of tea at the end, they surrounded me with friendship explaining what they believed was an error in the heating system, as the hall was a freezing trap somewhere, away from dusty, humid and very warm atmosphere of the streets of Bucharest on April 19, 2018.
I was at the STUDIO hall of the Spiru Haret University, in the centre of the centre of Bucharest, where I was invited to discuss about Chadō and Zen (two topics one should not easily dare talk about in public) thanks to the kindness of the management and in particular the willingness of a man of vision who happens now to be a good friend, doctor Matei Georgescu - professor at the department of the Science of Education and Psychology.
Dr. Matei Georgescu fights to bring back perennial values into the mainstream educational curricula. The injection of "specialisation" without the injection of basic human values tends to destroy the fabric of society. And we do not want that don't we?
Materialistic values, competition, quick fixes, the race for efficiency lead all to alienation.
Ignoring the food that makes man be human and the human remain human - the exercise of the humanistic instinct and of the ability to appreciate, study and continuously grow the aesthetic and ethic values fundamental to our civilisation, leads us to nowhere.
Talking about spiritual values, today, when even the word "spirituality" became a confusing abstraction, used anywhere, from a lavatory, to a disco, to a menu of a new age restaurant, is either an impossible task or a task that has to be undertaken with a clean sense of humour and respect.
We chose the second option.
Chadō (the Way of Tea), and Chanoyū (the Japanese Tea Ceremony), are about the heart and spirit of the Japanese people. Zen, the forever elusive and undefinable teaching, is the spiritual backbone of this Tea Ceremony and is a key ingredient in the fabric of the Japanese soul. Or so it was hundreds of years ago.
The key element here, and the purpose of the conference, was to walk, together with the audience, through the formation and the evolution of this spiritual backbone and to ask ourselves whether the values are today obsolete or just forgotten.
Whether the missing link which many of us feel inside, the seed of anxiety, the fabric of depression, is due to the fact that, while the values present in Chadō and Zen, are perennial, permanently next to us, human beings, we forgot about them, we do not know they can be resurrected, they can again be our friends.
Become again our friends, because while imbibing the morality of a Japan of the XVI century, they transcend the Japanese culture as they represent fundamental human values even today.
The poster, an enthusiastic impromptu of poster art, included all the information possible - nothing was left out.
And placed everywhere to complete the typical Romanian poster infrastructure:
The hall, few moments earlier empty and cold, filled with people who brought their warm feelings and curiosity. Not many people - you do not know what to make of such a title for a conference: Chadō and Zen today. But they warmed up the space with their sincerity and curiosity. A good bunch of people who joined the speaker in a genuine debate.
The Embassy of Japan, was always supportive of such cultural activities. Ms. Yukiko Yasuda - cultural attache and Mr. Takahiko Watabe - counselor / advisor to the Embassy of Japan honoured us with their presence. Mr. Takahiko Watabe offered an eloquent and well focused introduction to the role of the Tea Ceremony in Japan, underlined the importance of such activities and introduced the speaker.
A formal photo session took place prior to the start of the conference.
Sharing cultural values and trying to understand their dimensions, their true meaning, beyond instinctive immediate associations, is a key factor for a good cooperation and expansion of our cultural space. We look forward for more such encounters.
The local paper Opinia Nationala had a supporting review of this event which you may read by clicking on the image below: