Harmony: The Dorje Dradul of Mukpo Prepares a Cup of Tea
The late Buddhist Master Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche manifested in many forms to teach beings of different inclinations. In this sense, one could say that he spoke many languages, or that he spoke all languages, as his meditation took him to the source of all meanings. And so aside from his Buddhist persona, he presented the Shambhala Teachings on Warriorship (Shambhala: Sacred Path of the Warrior and Great Eastern Sun), and called himself Dorje Dradul of Mukpo. Mukpo was the name of his Clan or family, and Dorje Dradul means Indestructible Conqueror of Enemies.
The enemies he conquered through these teachings are the neuroses of human beings that hide our innate goodness from ourselves and the world. The teachings on how to destroy this cowardice and fear were simple in that they related to how to function with natural elegance and reverence for the simple yet profound qualities of all human emotions and experiences; these teachings were instructions on how to harmoniously function within our environment and our communities.
The Dorje Dradul encouraged those who felt an affinity with the Path of Shambhala Warriorship to learn practices like the Tea Ceremony because he had appreciation for the way it poetically expressed the union of Heaven and Earth. Heaven, in this sense, was not some kind of religious romanticism or some kind of vague sentimentality, but simply an expression of spaciousness, of preciousness. Earth was not just the ground we walk on, but an expression of activity, an expression of "here and nowness," an expression of presence. An example he gave of these principles was in the simple act of buying toilet paper. He said buying the toilet paper was an expression of heaven, using it and flushing it was an expression of earth. In terms of our inner experience as human beings, he described these two principles of Heaven and Earth as the unity of awareness (Heaven)--the totality of the situation, and mindfulness (Earth)-- the specific demand of what needs to be done, or how to work with things.
One of the greatest mistakes we engage in as human beings is to believe that everything in our world is not connected, and that our actions don't affect everything around us. We tell ourselves that we can't make a difference and this both reinforces our conviction that we are failures and justifies our lack of daring to actually step out into a world where we can do things we believe to be impossible. In pointing out this lie, the Dorje Dradul spoke of the Tea Ceremony, and how we can actually learn a thing or two from ancient traditions. Specifically, he encouraged his students to study the Tea Ceremony in order to learn something about how effort, energy and wisdom function.
In the Tea Ceremony, effort, energy and wisdom come together in the simple demands of how to use a pot, how to boil water in it, how to control the temperature of the fire, and how to clean up after ourselves. When speaking of these things, the Dorje Dradul said that some people might scoff at this kind of reasoning, thinking, "What's the big deal [about learning these things]...It's not going to change the presidential elections or anything like that." (Great Eastern Sun, p.108) But although these things seem so simple and not any particular "earthshaking experience," he suggested that it might actually be the key to the presidential elections.
The aim of alchemy is to heal our world. Our world is fractured into millions of things that don't seem to have anything to do with anything else. We wander from thing to thing, from experience to experience, wondering how we got here and how we are actually going to get somewhere happy and meaningful. These principles of working with Heaven and Earth, with awareness and mindfulness are the secret ingredients to a magical healing potion, the elixir of life. When we bring these aspirations to our everyday life, we begin to weave events together and discover a sacred world. This world is not another world, but the same world we have been living in unveiled, where a spontaneous sense of awe and wonder emerge from within ordinary events. It is the same world, yet it is worlds apart from our anxious lives of chasing scraps of meaning in a windstorm.
The natural elegance of life is mysteriously hidden within all events, and wisdom is the path of opening to the inconceivable vastness of everything we thought we could and couldn't be. Somewhere on this path we find the courage to work with whatever we happen to feel or be, and in the bittersweet quality of all that is we find a true taste for the entirety of this life: this perfect cup of tea.