Can Beauty Be The Master of Efficiency?

Different from the normal practice, there were five empty vases in the alcove, four lined up on the floor, and one hanging on the pillar on the left side.  There was no insence container in the alcove.

 Five of us all sat in a circle, and each picked a small rectangular wooden chip. On the front of the chip looked identical: drawing of a pine branch. On the back side, each chip had different drawings: a moon design, a flower design, a character of one, two, and three.  The person who picked the chip with the flower design was to carry a tray of flowers into the room, and the rest of the people were to enter the tatami-mat room in the order of the moon design, one, two, and three.

After this picking process, we all enjoyed sweets together.  Now time to practice tea ceremony.

I’m not going to bore you with detailed procedure of the practice, but will simply share with you the outline of what we did. Each of us picked a couple of branches from the flower tray, put them into one of the five vases on the alcove, passed around an insence containe and enjoyed its sweet aroma, then took turn to make and drink a bowl of tea.

While we were busy conducting each procedure, each moment we were focusing on one thing: beauty.  Does the flower on the vase look beautiful?  Does the aroma envoke sensuous beauty within you? Is the sound of my steps moving on the tatami mat pleasing my and everybody else’s ears?  Is my posture of pouring hot water into the tea bowl elegant enough? 

The whole procedure is well choreographed with no unneccesary movement.  Efficiently conducted.  Efficiency here, hower, is merely a mean to achieve the utmost goal, beauty.     

In our daily lives, this master – servant relationship is often reservesed, for too long.  Which way do we prefer?  Feel more in line with our own nature? I pause to question.

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