Thursday, October 11, 2007

Lessons from a broken cup... from Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, Compiled by Paul Reps.

Ikkyu, the Zen master, was clever even as a boy. His teacher had a precious teacup, a rare antique. Ikkyu happened to break this cup and was greatly perplexed. Hearing the footsteps of his teacher, he held the pieces of the cup behind him. When the master appeared, Ikkyu asked "Why do people have to die?"

"This is natural," explained the older man. "Everything has to die and has just so long to live.

"Ikkyu, producing the shattered cup, added: "It was time for your cup to die."

A wise shopper sees the end as well as the beginning. He or she knows that in the acquisition of the object is the responsibility of its disposal. Every large truck arriving at the big box store has its partner, noisy with a gross odor due to the spoiled, infected nature of its contents, that carries away the no-longer-wanted, worn out and wasted stuff for burial in huge mounds or holes from which vile effluent spreads through the groundwaters of our nation to poison our communities.

A wise craftsman sees the end as well as the beginnings of his or her own work. There are lessons from the broken cup. We invest what we can of ourselves in the object, to insure its strength and ability to serve. We design things to be useful so they may serve and strong so that they may last. We make things beautiful so that others will care for them and know what is in our hearts. We know the things we make will not last forever. Some things we make will join the objects from the big box store, hauled away in stinky trucks. Some, however, may last and inspire others to make and to care. The wise craftsman knows that his or her time is short. Even the most nimble and creative fingers will grow tired and inept. At that time we will visit young friends in their homes, find the things we have made displayed as treasures, and when the time comes to join the broken cup, we will go in peace.

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