[The section of Rikyū’s handwritten text that is translated in this post.]
(4) When the chasen is placed into the chawan [as the host gets ready to blend the koicha], the guests should rise up onto their knees¹, and, beginning with the [guest in the] highest seat, step by step do what [you have been taught] is correct when tea will be drunk.
Then the guest in the highest seat should advance toward the middle of the room [on his knees] using his hands², and after picking up the chawan he should look at it to make sure the tea is good, and then after returning to his seat he should proceed to drink it.
After two, or maybe three, sips, he should stop and appraise [the amount of koicha that remains in the bowl], and decide whether to finish drinking it all or pass it on to the next guest³.
When [first] taking the chawan⁴, if the guest in the highest seat simply reaches out and picks it up [without moving forward on his knees first — even if just a little, as would be required in a room where he is seated on the mat next to the utensil mat], this is discourteous.
Also, for him to begin to move forward early⁵ [while the host] is still preparing the tea is [likewise disagreeable?].
¹Kyaku-jin hiza wo tatsu-beshi [客人膝を立つべし]. Chanoyu was never intended to be a feat of endurance, especially for the guests. Consequently, there never was any objection to their sitting crosslegged (or in whatever way they found most comfortable) until it was time to drink the tea (at which time, as Rikyū points out here, they should assume a properly respectful position).
Sitting seiza throughout began in the Edo period, as a mark of respect to a daimyō (who might someday be present at a gathering to which this person was also invited: one can not simply sit seiza for long periods of time without considerable practice, so especially people who were frequently involved with chanoyu came to accept sitting in seiza at all times as good practice, so that they could do so without loosing the feeling in their legs when this was made necessary by the presence of a guest of high status).
²Te wo tsuki [手を付き], by (or using) the hands. One places the hands (rolled up into a fist, with knuckles down) a short distance beyond the knee-line and then slides or swings the body forward.
³The last four decades of the sixteenth century was the time when things were changing. When Jōō died in 1555, it was still the norm for an individual bowl of koicha to be prepared for each guest (as well as two bowls of usucha, almost always during a separate temae later in the gathering). After Jōō’s passing, Rikyū began to assert himself and started to customarily prepare one bowl of koicha for the shōkyaku, while doubling up on the remaining guests. Between 1595 (and Hideyoshi’s liquidation of Sakai) and 1615, chanoyu entered into a period of decline and, with the seppuku of Oribe in 1615, all but ceased to exist. When chanoyu was revived at the behest of the Tokugawa bakufu, under Sōtan and the machi-shū, for all of the guests to share a single large bowl of koicha was now the norm (and has remained thus up to the present day).
However, even in the time of Rikyū (and possibly as early as the last quarter of the fifteenth, or the early sixteenth, century) — especially when the number of guests was small (two people, or maybe even three) — some of the recluses*, who were the original type of the wabi-chajin†, following the precedent of Shukō’s passing around the bowl of tea offered to the spirit of his departed teacher, were already beginning to offer just one bowl of koicha for all of the guests (including the shōkyaku) to share with each other‡.
Mindful of the various possibilities with which the guest might be confronted — Yabu-no-uchi Jōchi (unlike the majority of Rikyū’s close associates to whom most of the other surviving densho were addressed), appears to have been one of those people who preferred making just one bowl of koicha for all of the guests to share — Rikyū advises the shōkyaku to drink normally first, and only then consider if the amount of tea remaining in the chawan merits its being passed along, or whether he should perhaps finish it all and let the host prepare another bowl of tea for the following guest or guests**.
*These people were pursuing chanoyu as a discipline, an exercise in motion meditation, thus they were explicitly offering their bowl of tea to the Buddha, and incidentally sharing that offering with their guests so that the tea itself would not be wasted — as had been the original idea. This is different from the kind of social tea practiced by Jōō and Rikyū, and most people in the city, where serving tea to people was the reason for the gathering.
†This practice was championed by certain factions within that group of Sakai teamen not affiliated with Jōō or Rikyū, who are conventionally lumped together under the name machi-shū. (I should point out that this was actually a fairly diverse group, who ranged from those still practicing the elaborate courtly-style of tea associated with the Koryeo court and that of the Ashikaga shōguns, to that of the nameless mountain recluses — some of whom were using the powder left over when rice is polished rather than ground matcha — who represent the opposite extreme of the spectrum; still it appears that the falling out with Jōō endureded by certain outspoken and influential members of this group precipitated a sort of solidification of the opposition to those people whom they considered adherents of the antiquated orthodox method espoused by Jōō and Rikyū. It was this sense of opposition that melds these different factions into what we may call the machi-shū movement.)
‡This is called sui-cha [吸い茶], and it only became the norm in the Edo period — under the influence of Sōtan and the machi-shū.
To the end, Rikyū himself seems to have preferred to serve the shōkyaku an individual bowl of tea — except possibly (during his last year or two of life) when there were only two guests, and they all (host and guests) were social equals.
**Conventionally, the chaire was supposed to be filled more or less completely (so that the presence of a large air-pocket would not allow the tea to begin to degrade); thus, except in the case where the host had already poured all of the tea into the chawan (usually only the case when he was using a small natsume, typically when the matcha had been received from someone else rather than prepared specifically for that gathering by the host), making another bowl or two of koicha would not normally present the host with any serious logistical problems.
⁴Typical of Rikyū, he has neglected to include this point in its proper chronological place*, so he has simply tacked it on the the end of the passage.
Rikyū is referring to the point in time when the shōkyaku first picks up the chawan from where the host handed it out.
*These kinds of lapses suggest that Rikyū was not writing in his native language.
⁵Haya☐☐ [はや☐☐]: the paper is damaged, and the final word or words are illegible*.
I have taken this word to be hayai [はやい = 早い], meaning (moving forward) early, but this is only an educated guess.
The word that informs us of the consequences (or the impression) that moving forward early will produce, is also unreadable. In all probability, Rikyū likely deemed this action offensive — since that is the trend of thought expressed in this final pair of sentences.
*The editors of the Rikyū Daijiten have finally decided to assert themselves here, and filled in several of the characters that Suzuki Keiichi was unable to decypher.
For the record, the best Suzuki could do was mata cha ☐☐☐ tsukite ☐☐☐ [又茶☐☐☐つきて☐☐☐], which does not really suggest much of anything.