Questions for the Samurai and the Tea Master
Read the following extract from the beginning of our story, The Samurai and the Tea Master. Answer the following Questions.
1) What kind of person is a Samurai?
2) What do you understand by the phrase "distilled essence of violence" ?
3) What are the ways in which a tea master is similar and different to a Samurai?
4) What did the tea master do when he met the two Samurai warriors?
5) What does the second Samurai think about the way the tea master is dressed?
Vocabulary and Grammar
1)"his sole focus"
What is another word for "sole"?
2)"The odds, the dangers and the enemies may be massively against him...."
The word "odds" comes from the world of
3) Which is the correct sentence?
a) He did not quite know what to take of the fellow who dressed like a fellow Samurai
b) He did not quite know what to make with the fellow who dressed like a fellow Samurai
c) He did not quite know what to make of the fellow who dressed like a fellow Samurai
e) He did not quite know what to make off the fellow who dressed like a fellow Samurai
d) He did not quite know what to break off the fellow who dressed like a fellow Samurai
4)"They found themselves face X face with two Samurai warriors."
What is the missing word?
5) "He was an impostor"
What is another word for impostor ?
A Samurai warrior is as spiritual as a monk. He is the ruler of of his mind as much as of his body. He trains his spirit through the form of meditation known as zen. He can sit still for hours on end, gradually reducing his thoughts until his sole focus is on his breath. No base passion, fear, discomfort or excitement shall control him even for a single second. He can endure the bitterest cold or the fiercest heat. When faced with death itself, his mind is perfectly still. The odds, the dangers and the enemies may be massively against him and yet his concentration, as sharp as his sword, may cut through them all.
Yes he is a spiritual being indeed. But his spirit is the distilled essence of violence.
But such self-control is not confined to the fighters of Japan. The Master of the Japanese Tea ceremony performs his peaceful duties with just the same concentration and focus of attention, as this story from Ancient Japan shows.
Several centuries ago, a tea master worked in the service of Lord Yamanouchi. No-one else performed the way of the tea to such perfection. The timing and the grace of his every move, from the unfurling of mat, to the setting out of the cups, and the sifting of the green leaves, was beauty itself. His master was so pleased with his servant, that he bestowed upon him the rank and robes of a Samurai warrior.
When Lord Yamanouchi travelled, he always took his tea master with him, so that others could appreciate the perfection of his art. On one occasion, he went on business to the great city of Edo, which we now know as Tokyo.
When evening fell, the tea master and his friends set out to explore the pleasure district, known as the floating world. As they turned the corner of a wooden pavement, they found themselves face to face with two Samurai warriors.
The tea master bowed, and politely step into the gutter to let the fearsome ones pass. But although one warrior went by, the other remained rooted to the spot. He stroked a long black whisker that decorated his face, gnarled by the sun, and scarred by the sword. His eyes pierced through the tea maker’s heart like an arrow.
He did not quite know what to make of the fellow who dressed like a fellow Samurai, yet who would willingly step aside into a gutter. What kind of warrior was this? He looked him up and down. Where were broad shoulders and the thick neck of a man of force and muscle? Instinct told him that this was no soldier. He was an impostor who by ignorance or impudence had donned the uniform of a Samurai.
What is more important, to be strong in mind or strong in body? In a conflict, who is more likely to win, the person with the most concentration and self-control, or the person with the most strength? What will see you through troubles and dangers, your mind or your body? Write down your thoughts or discuss them in class.