Tuesday, 11 May 2010

The Incense Burner Maker

There is a true account of a lady named Kame who was born and brought up in Nagasaki. Her father before her had also been a maker of incense burners. The incense burners he made were of a very high quality and she followed in his footsteps, also making burners of the very highest quality. The burners she made were expensive, because she took her time and only sold those that matched the high standards she set.

She once made a burner for the mayor of Nagasaki which took more than six months to complete. That particular burner is now part of the treasured art of Japan.

I thought yesterday of the difference we now face in our society. Surrounded by the need for instant answers to all things, we have created the express society. You can go to Vision Express and have your eyes tested and the spectacles ready in no time at all. This may indeed be good if you cannot see. We have Shoe Express, now this one I find more difficult but at a push I can see somebody maybe broke a heel. Pizza Express, I have just thought I need something to eat and I need it real fast, I watched a person in a caravan near me yesterday morning returning from the local burger bar because he needed an express breakfast. Fast food does not after all claim to be good food just fast.

Now here is the one that got me thinking, Carpet Express. I have an emergency, I need a new carpet and I need it is the next hour. I can see the carpet fitters sitting tools to hand ready to answer the emergency calls for those who need a new carpet yesterday. I wonder if they had a twenty-four hour helpline for those who might have realised in the middle of the night they needed a carpet.

There is the story of the student who wanted to find the means to peace. He signed on to learn under a master. At the end of week one he told the master he wished to leave, he had not found anything. The master pleaded with him to stay another week. Again the same thing happened. This went on for a number of weeks. At last the master said to him, “Stay one more week and if at the end of that week you still have no answer, then you should kill yourself because you never will find the answer.” The student found his answer in two days.

In a life that is always at express speed it is often the case that we cannot focus on that which is important. The price we pay is quality. The price we pay, is never to know what it is we are seeking.

This blog is linked to my other where I discuss the art:- Abstract


  1. Inner peace is something we all want but just don't have the time for because we want everything else and we want it fast. Life and everything in it is moving so fast that time has now become a precious commodity that we have to distribute very carefully. My inner peace is already within me. I just have to find the time to access it and let it renew me from within. Who invented all these things we have to do anyway?

  2. Since the day H. Ford introduced the 'assembly line' method of production we live in a world of planned obsolescence...."they" used to tell me my newest electrical appliance had a life-time warranty....what "they" didn't say was that the lifetime was planned to be ten years. I notice it is now five years. Consequently we are always replacing and replacing NOW with the latest shiny plastic!
    Did you know Ikea doesn't care how its made...or if its made from 'protected' species of wood in China? Get it made, get it fast, sell it fast to an ever consuming public. Went to an Ikea store once....never again!
    Even trusted product names leave me wondering. A few years ago I purchased an end table; an expensive, trusted-name table. I notice little chippeys coming off the finish. The table has never been knocked or knacked and leaves me wondering about the finish and how it was applied. In a fast fashion I imagine with no concern for quality.
    I have recently been with people who shop daily. For what I asked? I shop once a year...I simply do not need all the glitter and gadgetry offered in so many stores (well, except for art supplies I shop weekly). I will not go to a shopping 'mall'; who needs it?
    And what about some of our modern kitchens where if you microwave a bag of vegetables you have prepared a home cooked meal? What about all the choppers and blockers and gadgetry in the kitchen....never used. What about a chopping block and a knife?
    My ex-husband never understood all I needed was a roof that didn't leak, a warm fire and a forest and wind around. Didn't need that four bedroom house or all that was in it!
    Enough...I could write a book.
    I guess to find inner peace we must somehow extract ourself from this living dance and withdraw into our being....life seems to hold us captive and allows little time for this pursuit. And without inner peace we have nothing.

  3. Wow, Ralph, this has to be the best one yet! "The price we pay, is never to know what it is we are seeking" These are the fleeting attempts to find happiness in commodities! and everybody wants to make us happy! I am sorry to hear that this infliction is in Europe and the British Isles. I always thought this to be a particularlly American desease. The 1st time I went to Europe I threw my watch away. You guys didn't seem to have the twisted notion of time that we had, that time itself was a commodity, could be saved and wasted and yes, "spent"! We no longer have time to enjoy it and just let it be. We don't really "choose" anything: we like the idea of 14 different toothpastes but we always pick the same brand! It is so easy to forget that life is about the journey, not the destination! Someone famous said, "it is easier for a rich man to get his wealth through the eye of a needle than to take it into heaven." We forget that too!

  4. Gosh Ralph. This was really well said. Instant gratification has come home to roost.

  5. How true. The whole world seems to be stricken with this disease.