The Tea Ceremony

How hard is it to make good tea?

In China, Japan, Korea, India and Viet Nam, the tea ceremony is a formal cultural activity. It is highly stylized, even ritualized, process of preparation, presentation and enjoying tea. It has survived for centuries. Things that last have value.

Tea is not that hard. What else is the ceremony for?

It seems to be about tea, but is much deeper.

In fiction, especially movies, a MacGuffin is a plot device that serves as the focus of attention or desire. It is usually presented without explanation of its purpose. The Maltese Falcon is a classic MacGuffin. So are the artifacts in the Indiana Jones series

Tea is a MacGuffin in the same sense. It is not being pursued for itself. The tea ceremony experience is the important part.

The idea of the ceremony is to address what is beautiful in an otherwise not beautiful world. The tea ceremony highlights the value of refinement, simplicity, and inner peace.

People who have enjoyed the ceremony discover much about themselves. It is like meditation, in that all extraneous thoughts are extinguished. The simplicity of tea, carefully crafted and artfully presented is obvious, but the deep meaning is there too.

There will never be a fast food tea ceremony.

Fast food tea ceremony is an oxymoron. As with all good restaurants, speed is not a priority. Speed is not an acceptable substitute for quality. Speed seldom provides an experience.

I know a restaurateur who no longer opens for lunch because customers do not want to be in the restaurant for the time it would take to prepare, serve and consume his idea of a good meal.

He refuses to deal with the concept

Good food takes time to prepare. Yours will be ready in a moment.

How like planning

Plans are not the purpose. Just as tea is not the purpose. No plan ever works. Plans are useless by themselves, but the process of creating plans is crucial. No plan is once done, done forever.

The process, like the tea ceremony, seems complex, foreign, and bound to ritual and tradition.

The process, like the tea ceremony, provides insight, understanding and peace of mind.

The process, like the tea ceremony, helps us understand ourselves and eventually we come to notice that is the most important part.

Planning lets us escape the tendency to see the world as linear.

Phil Knight of NIKE seems to have it figured out.

I was a linear thinker, and according to Zen linear thinking is nothing but a delusion, one of the many that keep us unhappy. Reality is nonlinear, Zen says. No future, no past. All is now.

Anything that lets us reflect on reality in a calm way improves our lives. If all you want is a hot drink, the tea ceremony is not for you. If all you want is a financial tool, then holistic planning is not for you.

Can you describe what you want?

Can you describe what it would mean to have it. If you cannot describe its meaning, it is a MacGuffin. A MacGuffin is something the protagonist pursues, but the specific nature of what is being pursued is not important to the plot. Achieving it would be u satisfying.

Focus on meaning.

People who know what they want, what it means to them, and what they have to get it with,  tend to succeed.

Don Shaughnessy arranges life insurance for people who understand the value of a life insured estate. He can be reached at The Protectors Group, a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency in Peterborough, Ontario.  In previous careers, he has been a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business.

Please be in touch if I can help you.  866-285-7772

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