The disciple came to his master saying, “Why do some fail to grasp the meaning of life?”
The master replied, “In Japan, there is a ceremonial art that can take a lifetime to master called ‘The Way of Tea.’ This graceful ritual for the preparation and presentation of matcha green tea can last up to four hours; in it, I can highlight the meaning of life to you.
“First, sweet treats are served in anticipation of the bitter tea to come. Just as in life, when we are just babes our mothers sing soothing songs to us and cater to our every need.
“Then after the pour of hot water, comes the rigorous frothing of the tea powder—the discipline bestowed to us as adolescents in preparation for adulthood.
“Finally, before the tea can be enjoyed, a bow is exchanged between host and guest. This is the right of passage to adulthood, a recognition of completion.
“The meaning of life is to bring mind and body together to learn harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility in spite of the bitterness we face. However, as if ushered to the wrong seat at the table for this ceremony, those who fail to grasp the meaning of life feel as though the bitterness they experience is, as the saying goes, ‘not their cup of tea.’”
It is no fault of our own if tea is served too hot or too bitter. Some of us are not adequately prepared: babes do not receive their sweets (or others are allowed to gorge themselves for too long); adolescents are frothed too vigorously (or not enough); while some do not receive their bow. It is our duty, nonetheless, to take the drink before us and spend the rest of our lives making the most of the ritual, restoring it to grace.