Virtues and imperfections of Beer-ChangArticle 3 of 7 Second reply of Beer-Chang to Tea

First reply of Tea against Beer-Chang.

Piqued to the core, the bright-brown genius of Tea emerges from a princely teapot and counterattacks. Her name is Sherab Drolma, "Wise Tara".

From the outset, Tea stands under the patronage of the Indian deity of compassion and enlightenment, the Green-Tara, or the White-Tara, whose practice of tantra requires a high degree of purity: no meat, no blood, no alcohol, no bodily filth, no mental excitement. The reverse side seemingly of the princely banquets, the table of the masters, the village beer parties, the abundant offerings and the brutal drunkenness of the military chiefs. Tea therefore addresses the religious king, not the banqueter-king. Tea's speech is not based on the customs and habits of Tibetans, whether they were princes, chiefs or captains, but on the triumphs of Buddhism and its great zealots.

Tea claims to be offspring from the Great Lotus that appeared in the Buddha's bowl during meditation, and the Tree of Enlightenment. According to Tea, three manifestations were born from them. The highest: the Great Tree Trishing Yongdou in the divine sky. On earth, the tree under which the Buddha experienced Enlightenment in the Indian city of Bodhgaya. The last of this "vegetal" lineage, is the tea from China. In this vast historical-spiritual sketch, the legitimacy of tea and China, the early land of the propagation of the Buddhist doctrine from India, surpasses that of Tibet, the later historical refuge for the Law of Buddha.

" My first leaves that grew during the three months of spring,
Were used as offerings to the Glorious Emperors and Grand Lamas,
As well as to great chieftains;
By this, their prosperity was improved.
My later leaves that grew during the three months of summer
Were used for making tea for the laity and clergy
And they felt happy because of the tasty tea;
They became calm and more prosperous.
My last rough leaves that grew during the three months of autumn
Were obtained by incomparable and strong Khampas (khams-pa)
Who cooked a soup of white bones containing marrow.
Hence they became unusually strong and fierce.

The genius of Tea depicts for her avantage the social uses of tea, like Chang has done with beer. First the Lamas whom tea supports in their spiritual exercises, then the clergy and the laity for pleasure and health, and finally the Khampas herders who draw strength and pride from it. Here we find a thinly veiled opposition between the cereal growers inclined to indolence and drunkenness, and the herders of the highlands, with their frugal morals and indomitable spirit. Against all odds, the tea champions attached to the Buddha's Doctrine are not the peaceful villagers of the plains, but the proud herders with a warrior spirit. Tibet has been influenced by its powerful neighbours: India and its Gangetic kingdoms, China, sometimes weak, sometimes imperialist, and above all the powerful Mongols. The North and the West of Tibet are countries of semi-nomadic stockbreeders. The Tibetan Buddhist schools have fought mercilessly. The raise of the Tibetan kingdoms between the 11th and 15th centuries was not always the work of peaceful monks.

Tea sums up its merits :

" I am the root of life of all practitioners.
I am the hammer that destroys ignorance.
I am the dagger that cuts laziness out.
I am the finest of all teas.

They all refer to Buddhist spiritual practices: practising discipline, fighting ignorance, the root of all evil, not slackening one's efforts. Disciplining one's body and sharpening one's mind requires aristocratic qualities. To Chang, who accuses her of impoverishing men in the commercial search for a rare and distant Chinese product, Tea replies by the demands of the spiritual quest :

" Consequently, if one has not accumulated enough merit during a kalpa (ska/-pa)[2]
One can hardly see me.
Of course, that which is difficult is rarely attained
And that which is rare is invaluable.

Tea then evokes the episode that led to beer (and alcoholic beverages in general) being disqualified in the eyes of the Buddha, when one of his favourite disciples fell asleep half-drunk in front of him in an indecent posture (Svagata drunk in front of the Buddha). Then Tea tells the story of the Tibetan king Tri Ralpachen (Ngadag Triral Chog, 806-838) who in 838 was murdered by two of his ministers while sunning himself in the gardens of his palace after drinking beer, as was done in all royal courts[3]. A fervent Buddhist, this king was in political conflict with the defenders of the Bön, a flourishing religion in the country and already inspired by Buddhist currents prior to the 8th century, when (around 747) Buddhism was (re?)-introduced in Tibet. As early as the 1er century, great cultural waves from the North-East of India and Pakistan spread Buddhism to Central Asia and China.

[1] The Khampa, proud breeders organized into independent tribes, live in the southeastern area of the Tibetan plateau. Through the Kham's mountainous eastern edge, the tea was trade from the China's Yunnan plain toward the central Tibet at that time.

[2] A kalpa is a measure of time equivalent to 16,798,000 years used by Indian cosmology and integrated by Hinduism and Buddhism to express the almost infinite succession of rebirths.

[3] His brother Langdarma (glang dar ma) (r. 838-841), fiercely opposed to Buddhism, take power, persecute the Buddhist monks and dismantle their monasteries.

Virtues and imperfections of Beer-ChangArticle 3 of 7 Second reply of Beer-Chang to Tea