Sunday, November 15, 2015
"Nothing is real to us but hunger, nothing sacred except our own desires. Shrine after shrine has crumbled before our eyes; but one altar forever is preserved, that whereon we burn incense to the supreme idol,- ourselves." Okakura Kakuzo The Book of Tea
Flowers. I was once part of a CSA (community supported agriculture) and would pick up a box of vegetables from a local farmer each week during growing season. The farmer also had a side garden of flowers, and members were welcome to pick a bouquet each week. It was delightful. Throughout the season, we had a vase of bright flowers on our table alongside our locally grow, beautiful produce.
In this chapter of The Book of Tea, Kakuzo, dude, you really are messing with my lovely memory! You go pages about the horrific violence towards chopping down flowers and sticking them indoors. The anthropomorphic flowers are simply tortured by humans' greedy, grubby hands ripping them from their sweet home and into an artificial location for our perverse enjoyment.
"Why were the flowers born so beautiful and yet so hapless?" The poor defenseless creatures? I think you've gotten a bit too dramatic here. And you agree, "However, let us not be too sentimental." Good, let's get back to tea:
"When the tea-master has arranged a flower to his satisfaction he will place it on the tokonoma, the place of honour in a Japaneese room...It rests there like an enthroned prince...When the flower fades, the master tenderly consigns it to the river or carefully buries it in the ground." Oh, the attention to detail in the Japanese tea ceremony! It can sound intimidating, perfect, or ludicrous.
"The tea-master deems his duty ended with the selection of the flowers, and leaves them to tell their own story." That gets to the best way, Kakuzo, doesn't it? Knowing when to let something or someone tell their own story. When to back off. When to allow events to take their course and appreciate the outcome without trying to control it. Attention to detail yes, but basking in the imperfection of it all.
We are not perfect. Yet we are beautiful. And we have stories to tell. Give a place of honor to those around us, make them a cup of tea, sit, and let go of time and expectations and control and desires. Listen to each others' stories. Sip and savor the bright flowers of an open heart.
Move with intention.
Sunday, November 1, 2015
"A master has always something to offer, while we go hungry solely because of our own lack of appreciation." Okakura Kakuzo The Book of Tea
Oh, Kakuzo, how do you define a master? In this chapter of The Book of Tea, you present the importance of the art within a tea house and how it enhances the experience of the ceremony, the conversation, and of course, the tea.
Art certainly is a good springboard for a connection between people in the same space. But you focus on the connection between the viewer and the creator of the art. That surprised me. How can anyone possibly connect with the artist? What if the artists isn't fully aware, or even cares, why they created what they did? Is our connection with a piece of art anything but a reflection of ourselves? Our filter in how we see the world? If a particular painting speaks to me, touches my heart, am I connecting with the artist or simply using my gift of eyesight and imagination to enhance my own life? I studied classical music and know the masters had many reasons for creating their art, usually for employment. And yet, they had to bring their expertise, genius, and heart into the pieces as well. Or at least the pieces that have stood the test of time. If only the perfect cup of tea could be put on display to be enjoyed by many over the centuries.
I suppose in the world of tea, there are masters and they are such because they are fully present when making their creation. But it is so fleeting! If you miss the perfect moment to brew, the cup is ruined. If you are distracted while drinking, you can never get that moment back with that particular leaf. But the art on the wall stays. And hopefully quenches our thirst in another way.
"Art is of value only to the extent that it speaks to us."
But, of course.
Move with intention.