Tea Alchemy

Posted by AC Team

An opportunity to create peace and to enjoy an inspiring afternoon of Tibetan music, dance and to share sacred tea is my idea of a great time. So when my friend Dan Smith asked me to help him organize a Tibetan Tea Alchemy event to benefit all sentient beings and to create universal peace, I jumped at the chance.

An opportunity to create peace and to enjoy an inspiring afternoon of Tibetan music, dance and to share sacred tea is my idea of a great time. So when my friend Dan Smith asked me to help him organize a Tibetan Tea Alchemy event to benefit all sentient beings and to create universal peace, I jumped at the chance.

His description of the event was very amazing. Pure mountain spring water will be frozen into ice sculptures of the five female Buddhist deities. In a sacred ceremony Bhakha Tulku Rinpoche, will invoke these Buddhas to attend the gathering. The ice sculptures will thereby, become the embodiment of the Buddhas. When the statues melt, the water will be boiled to make tea.

David Hoffman, founder of Silk Road Teas, and Zhena, of Gypsy Tea donated special teas referred to as liquid gold because of their rarity. The tea will first be blessed and filled with the best wishes of all the guests for the perfection of service and community before we partake of it.

Dakinis dressed in traditional Tibetan robes will serve the tea, while Bhakha Tulku Rinpoche will honor us with a performance on flute. An array of accomplished Tibetan musicians and dancers will present their authentic talents.

This event is to raise funds to benefit the Vairotsana Center in Santa Barbara, and for the construction of two stupas, one in our Santa Barbara community and one on retreat land in the Zuni Mountains near Grants, New Mexico. A stupa is an ancient form of sacred Tibetan Buddhist architecture representing the manifestation of the Enlightened Mind of the Buddha.

These stupas, to be built in the Dudul Chorten (subduing of negative forces) style, are to be created as a compassionate response to stop the cycles of war and violence, bring healing and universal peace to the earth and support favorable and sustainable living conditions for all beings.

All the organization and preparation for this event heightened my anticipation for the actual event I could hardly wait! That magical Sunday afternoon finally arrived. The sun was peeking out of big fluffy white clouds, and a light breeze fanned the trees and flowers perfuming the air as we walked up the steps to the secluded mansion. The ceremony was taking place in the home of a generous supporter of the Tibetan people who kindly offered her spacious home and gardens for the event.

We were greeted by gracious smiling people who handed us each a khata (prayer shawl) at the entrance. Walking through the red, white and green petal-strewn tiled lobby we stepped onto the broad, lush green lawn. There we greeted Bhakha Tulku Rinpoche, who smiling serenely gently placed our proffered khatas over our shoulders with a blessing.

The ceremony started with a blessing ceremony by Bhakha Tulku Rinpoche, Tulku Orgyen Phuntsok Rinpoche and Lama Sonam Dadul. Tulku Orygyen Phuntsok Rinpoche then spoke about the meaning of the day and of the stupas they want to build. As he concluded his talk something made me look up at the sky. There, flying in majestic circles overhead were two beautiful red tail hawks, circling higher and higher until they disappeared from sight. What a wonderful natural blessing to begin the ceremony!

Tea master, Jon Oda, gently placed the five ice sculptures on the red, white, green, blue and gold petals decorating a low table in front of the Rinpoches. The colors of the petals represent the five elements and the five wisdoms. The Rinpoches chanted to imbue the ice sculptures with the spirit of the Buddhas that each sculpture represented. We were then invited to circumambulate the sacred deities, offering our prayers.

The tea master reverently removed the ice sculptures to complete their melting process and to make the anticipated teas. Ah, time for us to enjoy traditional Tibetan songs and dances performed by the Tibetan community from the Vairotsana Center with heartfelt enthusiasm and grace.

As I watched the performances, I felt a deep appreciation for all the Tibetans, so earnest in their desire to help all sentient beings, even while they are living in exile and so far from home. What an inspiring example of compassion and the teachings of their spiritual practice.

The tea master re-emerges, offering the first of what turned out to be many fragrant and unique liquid taste treats to the Rinpoches who blessed the tea. I cradled my white porcelain tea cup and breathed in the heady aroma of the tea before I took a delicious sip. Indeed, what a special and rare way to spend a Sunday afternoon. Different varieties of tea followed with yummy taste delights to complement them, served by radiant Tibetan ladies dressed in colorful elegant traditional robes. We sipped and nibbled as we savored the flute music and chanting of the Rinpoches and the song and dance performances by the members of the Tibetan community.

With the conclusion of the last song, we were invited to view the wonderful pieces of Tibetan art, thankas, stone carvings and calligraphy all open for silent auction to help fund the building of the stupas.

Ah time for one more cup of tea. Maybe I am becoming tea drunk as the tea master suggested in the beginning. Everything and everyone looked so beautiful and peaceful, how can anyone be angry if they experience this? The warm company of kindred people gathered for a meaningful cause, the blessings of the Tibetan spiritual teachers, the wonderful lilting harmonies of the Tibetan songs and music, the delicious teas and snacks and the beautiful environment all combined to make the moment one that I will remember for a long time.

For more information and to support the building of the Zuni Mountain Stupa and the Santa Barbara Stupa for universal peace and environmental harmony, please email Vairotsana Foundation at info@vairotsana.org or call 805-899-8177. You can also learn more about Tea Alchemy at www.tealchemy.org

Marilyn Tam is an influential corporate leader, speaker, consultant, author, respected philanthropist and social activist. www.HowToUseWhatYouveGot.com

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