After the morning Sutra recitation the old master is beating the Kaihan (開板, a large wooden board) mounted outside the Temple to signal the beginning of the morning Zazen. The strong tok-tok-tok breaking through the dawn can for sure be heard throughout the village.

kaihanOn the Kaihan outside a Zen-Dojo often the Chinese characters for “Life” and “Death” (生 and 死) are written, sometimes with a few additional words to remind us we should make good use of the short time-span given to us.

Before going to Japan this March I was in a hurry and careless when baking my bread and overheated the sourdough in an attempt to make the yeast grow even faster to save time. The yeast died, and in the following I had two complete failures with the bread I made. Eventually I had to discard the uneatable slimy mass, the first total loss in many years of baking …

I take the sound of the Kaihan as a warning to not waste time by hurrying too much and pushing things to develop beyond their natural pace. There is no way to force a sourdough becoming a bread before its time.

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