Gedanken & Geschichten / Thoughts & Stories

When in the darkness, a ray of light breaks your thoughts, spread your wings and believe in yourself.

H. Aichwalder 2019


The clarity of my thought sinks into a sea of sadness.

(for my mother)

H. Aichwalder 2004


Only in silence you find the ground of your soul.

H. Aichwalder 2007


When the snail crawls, time stands still for the others.

H. Aichwalder 2020


In now the injury, yesterday the wound, the scar for life.

H. Aichwalder 2020


An animal is an animal, a human being is a human being, but often the boundaries blur when the human being becomes an animal and the animal becomes a human being.

H. Aichwalder 2020


Turning the inside out, colour, width, narrowness, cut,...the character changes everything over time - or it stays?

H. Aichwalder 2020


Although everything flows around us, the thought remains.

H. Aichwalder 2020


I remember when you were born. 

I remember the first time I held you in my arms.

I remember you laughing and crying.

I remember all the moments we spent together.

I remember you leaving.

As long as I remember, you will live on in my thoughts. I will tell your children and my children about you. And when I am gone, we'll both live on in their thoughts.

Wherever you are, you'll always be with me, my little brother.

(for my brother) 

H. Aichwalder 2014

Geschichten / Stories

The tea master, the lord and the birdie

by Hermann Aichwalder©


for my mother


A long time ago, a tea master lived in a small village in Japan. His art of preparing tea was so outstanding that one day the lord in whose district the village was located heard about it. The lord, who was a great connoisseur and lover of tea and its preparation, insisted on checking this personally. So he immediately sent a messenger to inform the tea master about his coming. 

When the messenger of the lord arrived at the main square of the village, the excitement was very great. Everything that had legs and could walk gathered around him. When he then also asked for the tea master, astonishment was added. What did a messenger of the lord want from their tea master, the villagers asked themselves among themselves. This was interrupted by the appearance of the samurai who watched over this village. He made his way through the crowd according to his rank, friendly but determined, until he stood opposite the messenger. When the samurai informed him of the reason for his coming, he explained to the messenger that the tea master was not in the village but in the mountains to collect tea. He would, however, inform him immediately and personally, on his return, of the great honour that would be bestowed upon him and the whole village. He vouches for it with his life. The messenger took this favourably, handed over the sealed written message for the tea master to the samurai and rode off, leaving the excited crowd behind.

The tea master, who had no idea about all this, did not return to the village until late in the evening. He was surprised not to meet a soul outside the village. Usually at this time there were still some farmers on the way home with their carts and tools. But this time this was not the case. When he walked along the main street, where usually there was still social activity at this time of day, he felt a little uncomfortable. What could have happened, he thought to himself. But suddenly his thoughts were interrupted by a loud tangle of voices coming over from the village inn. Relieved, he walked towards it and carefully opened the sliding door. When he looked inside, it became quiet with a blow and all heads turned towards him. Astonished, he looked back. The whole village community was gathered here, even the samurai who was over the village was present with his whole family. This one also got up immediately and approached him. He kindly asked him to come in and take a seat, because he had an important message to give him. When the tea master, still with a surprised expression on his face, followed this, the samurai sat down opposite him and immediately began to tell him about the event that had happened while he was away. The tea master listened unbelievingly to his words, but when the samurai put the written message of the lord on the table for him personally, all doubts disappeared from his face. Until then it had been very quiet in the room and only the voice of the samurai could be heard, but when he put the still sealed document on the table, it became louder again. Everyone wanted to know what exactly was written in it and when the lord would come. The tea master, now also obviously a bit excited, took a short breath, reached for it, carefully broke the seal and opened it. Again the crowd grew louder, he was told to read it out loud. After he had nodded in agreement and calmness had returned, he did the same. It said that the lord himself would visit the village at the end of the month, in one week to be exact, to see if the tea master would live up to his reputation. No sooner was he finished than it started again. Everyone was talking in disarray, what a great honor it was for the until now insignificant village and everyone wanted to contribute in his own way. The landlord with special food for the lord, the craftsmen with gifts, the samurai with the reception of the villagers, and so on. Only our tea master sat there calmly. There was only one sentence in his head: "Will he live up to his reputation." Slowly he got up and left the inn. The crowd was so busy with themselves that they didn't even notice he was gone.

Thoughtfully introverted, the tea master walked along the main street of the village, not even noticing the little cats romping wildly along the roadside. Though he liked cats and could not pass anyone without stroking them.

Once home, he carefully stowed away his collected belongings as usual, made himself a small bowl of tea and then went to bed. Falling asleep did not really want to work that night. Too many thoughts flashed through his head. If he lived up to his reputation. What do you mean, reputation? The only thing that had interested him all his life was tea. Everything he knew about tea and how to make it had been taught to him by his mother from an early age. Yes, over the years he gained a great deal of self-awareness. But he owed the foundation to his mother and no lord had ever come to her. Although the samurai of the village, his family, his warrior friends and their family, as well as some higher ranking personalities from the surrounding area did appreciate her tea and the art of preparation. After her death he had followed in her footsteps. But a lord, what an honor, had she been able to experience that, how proud she would have been of him. And at the same time, what a burden on himself, good gracious, could she still be here to stand by him. All these thoughts went through his mind almost half the night until he finally fell asleep.

The next morning he was awakened by a loud knocking at his door. Still drunk asleep, he got up, slipped on his house kimono, went to the door and pushed it aside a bit to see who was there. His astonishment was great. All the important personalities of the village stood at his door. First the samurai of the village, behind him the village elder as it was proper, then the speaker of the farmers of the village, the blacksmith of the village, the master potter, the master weaver and last but not least the landlord of the village. Everybody bowed to him, even the samurai, bowed a little lower than he usually did, or as he should not have done according to his rank. The still astonished tea master now pushed the door completely open and politely returned the bow. When everyone had raised their heads again, the samurai stepped in front of him, first apologized for their early and unexpected appearance and further explained to him that due to the short period of time until the arrival of the lord, there were not many days left, which would have caused them all an almost sleepless night and there were still many things that were important to discuss. Then he looked at him expectantly, which is what the others behind him were doing. Slowly the astonished look of the tea master disappeared from his face and with a friendly, even understanding smile accompanied by a nod, he politely invited them in. Also the expectant look of the samurai and his followers changed into a relieved smile and without further ado the samurai followed by the others entered the house of the tea master. After everyone had sat down, he politely asked if he could offer them a bowl of tea. They agreed with enthusiasm. So he went into the kitchen. In the background he heard her chatting away. But he didn't let himself be distracted and concentrated completely on the preparation of his tea. It was still early in the morning and so he decided for a stronger variety and preparation. Usually not so many people came to him. He led a rather secluded life. He and his tea and those who appreciated his art. Usually only one or two people a day, which he received in his tea house in the back of the garden. There, where he prepared and served the tea in a fixed ceremony, as his mother had taught him. He spent the rest of the day mostly collecting and packing tea to sell to the merchant who visited the village once a month. But since yesterday his life was a bit confused. 

When he had finished the tea and returned to his unexpected visitors, the talking began. 

One by one he poured a bowl. First to the samurai, then to the village elders and so on, as etiquette dictated. Finally he poured himself. Then he lifted the bowl, bowed briefly in gratitude for the gift of nature, as he always did with his first sip and drank. All the others present did the same. Even the blacksmith, a rather ordinary man, who had never been a guest before and who was more inclined to drink sake, did so reverently or at least tried to do so. When all had put down their bowls again and after a short break, the samurai began to speak. What a great honour he, the tea master, had brought over their village. Never before had the lord himself been in this village. All inhabitants, including him, would be deeply in his debt and if he needed anything, he would be helped wherever possible. At the end of his speech, everyone agreed with him. The tea master just sat quietly and listened the whole time. Then he suddenly stood up and asked the audience if they wanted another bowl of tea. Astonished, they all looked at him, everyone was eager for an answer. But the tea master did not let himself be disturbed and gave everyone another bowl of tea. Then he sat down again, took a strong sip himself and started talking. They listened to him attentively. He explained to them that he did not need any help and that it would be best if everything remained as it was with him. His daily routine and everything around him, for any change would only make him nervous. Everyone in the village should concentrate on what they do best. The samurai the reception, the landlord the food, the craftsmen the gifts and so on. When the tea master finished his explanations, everyone nodded in agreement. Again the samurai spoke for everyone, thinking that this would probably be the best. And sometime the time would come when the guilt would be satisfied. After these words everyone stood up. One after the other said goodbye with words of praise for his tea with the tea master. Even the blacksmith, asked for an appointment for a tea ceremony, but only after the visit of the prince and probably only out of politeness.

After everyone had left and the tea master had put everything away, he went into the garden. There he sat down on a small stone bench, which was under an old cherry tree, which was just in full bloom. His eyes wandered through the garden. Over the stepping stones of the path, lined with green moss, to the waist-high, hollowed out stone block, always filled with fresh water, which served for cleaning before entering the teahouse. The teahouse itself, was very simple and plain. His grandfather had built it. He had been a simple, nature-loving man who always concentrated on the essentials of life and this was reflected in his work. Everything was so calm and in harmony with itself, grown with time. It was also this calmness that gave the tea master his inner serenity and from which he drew his strength.

It was this calmness, but also the tiring excitement around him, that slowly closed his eyelids and let him fall into a restful sleep. 

The days until the arrival of the lord passed by in a flash. The tea master did what he always used to do with one difference, no one from the village came to him for a tea ceremony. Everyone was far too busy with himself. A circumstance which was not so wrong for him. 

The village also underwent some changes. Doors and windows were covered with new rice paper, roof shingles were replaced and many an old coat of paint had to give way to new paint. Everyone, from young to old, worked diligently towards the arrival of the lord.

And then the time had finally come.

Everything that had legs was gathered at the village square. Those who could no longer walk were carried there. Everyone was wearing his best kimono. From the watchtower, at the entrance to the village, one could hear the hollow wooden sound of the round board being beaten with a wooden hammer, when the alarm was sounded or, as it was today, when high ranking visitors were announced. Through the long main road one could already see a small cloud of dust that formed in front of the rice fields of the village from the road. On this hot day, the village road had been sprayed with water to stop the dust of the riders.

All stood expectantly at the main square of the village. Of course, according to their rank well ordered with the village samurai at the top.

The tea master stood beside him. He too was wearing his best kimono. The last time he wore it was at his mother's funeral. Oh, she could be here now, he thought to himself. The cloud of dust with the horsemen was approaching quickly and they looked like an unreal apparition when they suddenly left the dust behind them at the beginning of the wet village road.  The tea master counted about 30 men as they approached the square in a slow trot. They all looked the same. Dressed in light armour, leather breastplates, legs and bracers covered with some dust. Even the lord, who he spotted among the horsemen, was dressed the same except for one difference: he had a dragon impressed on his leather breastplate. The dragon of wisdom, truth, justice and battle. The symbol of his dominion.

But even if he wasn't wearing the breastplate, you could tell who he was. It was his calm deliberate movements, as well as his fatherly ruling look, with which he rambled over the inhabitants of the village. When his men had dismounted from their horses, he too dismounted. Everyone bowed politely before him. The samurai who had accompanied him as well as the community of the villagers. Except for a few curious children who looked up at him knee-high in childlike curiosity as he approached the village samurai. A brief friendly smile slipped across his lips and the children smiled back. When he stopped in front of the village samurai and looked more serious again, they too lowered their heads. Again, the lord had to smile for a moment. Then he told everyone to stand up again. After his gaze had wandered once more over the village square and the faces of the inhabitants, he addressed some benevolent words to the village samurai. He bowed several times out of joy and thanked again and again for the words of the lord. Then the lord turned towards the tea master, who had been standing almost inconspicuously next to the samurai the whole time. He looked at him thoughtfully from top to bottom. For a short time his gaze remained fixed on the hands of the tea master, tanned from collecting tea. With a smile, he turned to him and said, "You must be the tea master." "Yes, Your Grace, I am," the tea master replied calmly.

"Then let us see at once whether you live up to your reputation," replied the lord. The tea master bowed once more and then the lord followed him in the direction of his home. All along the way they did not speak a word. When they arrived home, the tea master opened the door of his fence and showed the lord the way through the garden towards the tea house. When the lord saw the small stone bench under the old cherry tree, he stopped in front of it and sat down on it. 

The tea master waited politely for the stepping stones, bordered with moss, which led to the teahouse. The lord in our garden, on our stone bench. My God, if my mother could see this, he thought to himself for a moment.

The lord turned to him and said in a calm voice, "Go and prepare everything, I want to stay a while longer in this peace." The tea master nodded, went to the stone block where he ritually purified himself and disappeared as he went into the tea house.

The lord glanced after him for a moment, then looked up into the blossoming treetop of the cherry tree, where a little bird sang a song lightheartedly and jumped from branch to branch. His gaze glided down the branches covered with blossoms into the garden. Over the stepping stones of the path, lined with green moss, to the waist-high, hollowed out and water-filled stone block and from there to the tea house. What a simple and quiet life this man leads. The lord loved the people and their being, like a father who loves his children.  

After pausing for a moment, he got up and went to the stone block filled with water. There he washed himself calmly and thoughtfully, leaving all thoughts of everyday life behind. Then he took off his shoes and entered the tea house. He sat down opposite the tea master and nodded to him to begin.

The lord watched him attentively and calmly. They did not speak a word to each other during the whole ceremony. Although both men came from very different worlds, they were very similar. One collected tea, the other man and both knew about their destiny in this life.

When the tea master had finished, he pushed the tea bowl towards the lord for tasting and bowed briefly, as was tradition. The lord did the same and lifted the bowl to drink from it. Just as he was about to put his lips on the edge of the tea bowl, a small bird suddenly flew through the open gap of the skylight of the tea house. It flew a round through the room, over the heads of the two men, sat down on the edge of the lord's tea bowl and looked him cheekily in the face. The lord in turn looked back in amazement. The little bird seemed to care nothing about this. He turned his head towards the tea and sipped from it, once, twice. The lord as well as the tea master watched him in astonishment. When it was ready, it looked at the lord once more and then disappeared as it had come.

The lord and the tea master still watched in amazement, the disappearance of the uninvited, feathered guest. Afterwards they looked at each other questioningly. After a short moment, the lord lowered his gaze towards the tea bowl, which he still held just in front of his face. Then he took a strong sip. When the lord put the tea bowl down from his lips again, he paused for a moment, then a smile came over his lips and he said to the tea master: "What a delicious tasting tea, the bird must have thought," he said. Now the tea master smiled, for he had lived up to his reputation.