Senior abbots from many of the clans gathered in their hall, while our two rivals sat next to each other, at the front, to show their dedication to their duties.
The last presentation was about top-down versus bottom-up management. The abbess, a former developer, drew many examples from her coding days and paralleled top-down design versus organic rise of an architecture.
A few abbots were quite angry she shown good and bad sides from each without clearly taking position. A heated debate started behind Aki and Haru, which the latter listened to intently: he would probably be asked his opinion at dinner, and didn’t want to show any sign of weakness, which he was sure some monks would be seeking after to assert their position of power.
Haru’s eyes were closed, and Aki thought he was sleepy from a day of intense talks and note-taking in a crowded, hot room.
— — —
At dinner, the Chief Abbot came to ask them how they liked the day, and asked Haru what he thought about it.
“I liked the talks, but the last one got me thinking,” he said. Aki wasn’t angry he wasn’t asked, and surprised his friend would choose the hardest topic to talk to their supreme authority.
“What did you think, then?” asked the Chief Abbot.
“This was pretty much a settled topic for me,” answered Haru, to Aki’s dismay.
“If a single voice yells to people from an ivory tower,” he continued, “it is pretty obvious none will hear it, or worse: hear the wrong things. But if people in the courtyard chant the same things in unison, the person on top of the tower will probably be able to hear it clearly.”
“What?”, was the Senior Abbot’s outcry to the oblivious Haru, while Aki was visibly shrinking like he wanted people to forget his presence. “Are you saying us abbots would be useless and isolated?”
“Definitely not,” said Haru, “merely that whenever someone rose too high to get his words clear, they should climb down their tower to make their words clear to the rest.”
The Chief Abbot said nothing and left.
At that moment, Aki was enlightened, but Haru still wondered which Temple the story was about, and if there was really a tower made of ivory.