I've had the pleasure of several interactions with him over the years and last night Jerry and I attended one of his Tibetan Tea Ceremonies. I had no idea what to expect but I donned my ceremonial kimono and opened to the experience.
I've recently been studying Japanese Tea Ceremony and I figured it would probably be both different and similar. Well, one way it was dissimilar is that in Tibetan Tea Ceremony, you don't drink any tea, but rather you chant and bring a wish to be granted, by Palden Lhamo, one of the most important female protector deities in the Buddhist and Hindu traditions.
Jo ramo jo ramo jo jo ramo thun jo kala ra chen mo ramo acha dacha thun jo rulu rulu Hung jo hungThere were about 40 of us and we would walk up to the fire altar in pairs while everyone was chanting, pick up the tea pot, make our wish and then pour the tea into a little cup that sat inside a bowl. The tea overflowed from the cup into the bowl as everyone made their wishes and poured the tea.
At one point Lobsang sweetly described the different between Japanese and Tibetan Tea Ceremony. He told us about an event he attended where both ceremonies were happening simultaneously, with the Zen Monk Tea Masters on one side of the performance area and the Tibetan Monks on the other. It was then that he realized the Tibetans were "the hippies" of the tea ceremony. He said the presentation of the Tibetan ceremony didn't matter so much, but rather it was the heart awareness that held significance. That's my own understanding of The Tataga Style Tea Ceremony, A "California" Version Of The Traditional Cha-no-yu Japanese Tea Ceremony that I've been basing my own practice on. It's very permissive relating to the details of presentation but rather focuses on the simple making of tea with an open heart and the attainment of "tea mind". That's my take on it anyway.
This morning Jerry told me he felt very honored that everyone was chanting his name (mo ramo) during the ceremony and we made up a little chant of our own:
As much as we are committed to our process of spiritual enlightenment which includes some honoring the great gods and goddesses, we tend to give equal measure to the sacrilegious. But here's a picture of Palden Lhamo and she definitely portrays the image of deity I want to have on my side. I give thanks for her blessings as she is a powerful archetype to have an understanding with.
mo rano mo rano jay jay rano mo mo rano mo rano jay jay rano mo
While much Tibetan art leaves me dumbstruck and in awe of its beauty, some makes me quite uncomfortable. There are some quite freaky portrayals of delving deeply into some of the more unpleasant depths of the mind and human condition that expose a very scary side of tantra exploration. This is something the Dalai Lama is also trained in as well as loving kindness and compassion.
I find myself more attracted to the Hindu representation of Palden Lhamo as Kali. I like this picture
Clink here to read a very basic but well informed article on tantra