I attended a new year tea service today, held at the Buddhist temple where I go to collect what I call “pieces of peace.” The tea services here are not formal, but as the first tea service of the year is always a festive occasion no matter where or how it is offered, I chose to dress in my formal traditional wear appropriate for festivities.
Many of the traditional wear in my possession are handed down to me from my relatives, but this one I had tailor-made. As it is very expensive to have formal traditional wear tailor-made, I had to plan its purchase well in advance. It took me a whole year of saving up for a once-in-a-lifetime purchase on the one hand, while searching for the one piece I – and the next generation of my relatives to whom I may pass down somewhere in the future – could love to wear for the rest of my life on the other hand, before I finally welcomed this one to my wardrobe!
I had a clear goal, so I did not think it was too effortful to cut back on luxuries (though I could not lay off chocolates completely… they are so vital to me!). And it was not at all bothersome to befriend a nice sales staff of the traditional wear corner in a department store and make frequent visits to her so she would have a good idea on what would best suit me, in terms of both design and price (but I did feel bad stalking her for such a long period without buying a thing!).
But it was all worth it. The process paid off – the moment the sales staff saw this piece come in as new inventory, she knew it was for me and had it secretly put aside. I knew exactly what she meant, because I fell instantly in love with it in its entirety: the colour, the print and embroidery patterns and their placement, and the extra thoughtfulness added in the lining… it is hardly ever seen, but its design is made to flow naturally from that on the outside so it would not look awkward or out of line if it is seen. And to top it off, she brought it out during a bargain sale so I could get it at a special price!
Maybe it is not practical to go to such length for everything you aim to achieve.
Maybe there are more efficient and/or effective ways of attaining your goals.
But maybe it was due process for me, to succeed in this particular goal.
And maybe because I went through the due process, I feel I have won the right to possess this piece fair and square and I deserve to be praised for looking good wearing it!
At today’s tea service, the host invited the tea producer who provides the tea powder at these services to talk about and do a short demonstration of how they process the tea leaves that we ingest.
A demonstration of grinding the tea leaves on a manual stone mill
They said that it takes roughly an hour of grinding to produce the amount of tea powder necessary to serve a full tea room (a mere 15 to 20 grams, or 1/2 to 3/4 ounces, for about ten guests)! But this length of time is required to go through the due process of producing the fineness of powder best suited for whipping up thick but smooth foam, without losing the rich flavour of the tea leaves to heat caused by friction between the millstones.
And this is only grinding, the final step in producing tea powder. There are due process each in the planting and growing, harvesting, steaming, drying, and mincing and filtering of tea leaves, before grinding can begin… I could faint just by listening to them talk about all these steps! But they say they do not consider it effortful or bothersome to do all these, because they have a clear goal to produce the best tea powder that consumers will love to drink bowl after bowl.
Maybe a big round of applause is due – I am glad I wore my formal traditional wear today, to pay proper respect to and fully appreciate their due process to success!
Last but certainly not least, today’s “piece of peace” was this:
Not the usual verse from a sacred chant praying for world peace, but if you remember, this rice cake offered to the Gods turns into sacred give-aways… may there be enough morsel for all of us to share peacefully!