There is an old story I dimly remember, perhaps it was a story told by Alan Watts; where there was once a Zen master who loved ceramics, and tea bowls in particular. The story goes that there was a man who was studying with this Zen master, and had found what he felt was a particularly beautiful tea bowl. It was beautiful for its simplicity, uniqueness, and character. The man presented it to the Zen master with respect and ceremony- and the master picked up the bowl and smashed it on the floor. The man was so shocked he left the presence of the master without saying a word. One of the temple attendants was nearby and understood the distress of the man who had offered the bowl. The attendant gathered up the pieces, and had the bowl repaired with a Japanese technique that is called kintsugi (金継ぎ), which is the process of repairing broken pottery using lacquer mixed with gold dust for the seams. The attendant presented the repaired bowl to the master, and the master called in the man who had originally given it to him. “You were attached to the form of this bowl when you first presented it to me,” said the master. “So I had no choice other than to smash it.” The man bowed and said, “Before, it was beautiful- but now it is perfect.”
©2016 Anthony S. Wright, Ph.D., All Rights Reserved.