“A craft is not its objects;
a craft is how I am when I am making them.”
Crafts such as cooking, bookbinding, art and working on an historic old house offer many opportunities for self-exploration.
Once there was a master craftsman who made such beautiful things out of wood that the King himself demanded to know the secret of his art.
“Your Highness,” said the carpenter, “there is no secret; but there is something. This is how I begin:
“When I am about to make a table, I first collect my energies and bring my mind to absolute quietness.
“I become oblivious of any reward to be gained or any fame to be acquired. When I am free from the infuences of all such outer considerations, I can listen to the inner voice which tells me clearly what I have to do.
“When my skill is thus concentrated, I take up my ax; I make sure that is is perfectly sharp, that is fits my hand and swings with my arm.
Then I enter the forest.
“I look for the right right tree: the tree that is waiting to become my table. And when I find it, I ask: ‘What have I for you, and what have you for me?’
“Then I cut down the tree and set to work.
“I remember how my masters taught me to bring my skill and my thought into relation with the natural qualities of the wood.”
The King said, “When the table is finished , it has a magical effect on me; I cannot treat it as I would any other table.
“What is the nature of this magic?”
“Your Majesty,” said the carpenter, “what you call magic comes only from what I have already told you.”
Dooling, D.M. (Ed.). (1986). A Way of Working – The Spiritual Dimension of Craft. Parabola Books.