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Tea With Jampa

Tea With Jampa

It started with a scruffy-sounding, “Ohhhhhh! Tashi Delek!” (Tibetan greeting.)

I was sitting on a bench in the mountain forest below the Dalai Lama’s temple with my friend Tanja. Beside me quite suddenly was an elderly man leaning down and beaming as though Tanja and I were dear friends he hadn’t seen in years. “How are you?!” he said with sincere joy punctuating his words. “My name Jampa!”

He pointed up the path and said, “Come have tea! My house!”

The invitation was far too unexpected to be anything but a gift. So we said yes.

It turns out Jampa is one of the rare non-monastic Tibetans who lives inside the Dalai Lama’s temple complex. He came to India with the Dalai Lama in 1959. And he’s 87 years old.

Inside his room, which measured no more than 8” x 12”, was everything Jampa owns. Two small beds, four deep shelves, a small table, a two-burner stove, and a row of wall hooks held all of his belongings. Every single thing in that room served one or more purposes, which ultimately was all to support his deep devotion to spiritual well being.

Jampa put out a plate of fresh oranges, pears and apples for us to eat, then when the tea was ready he poured ours into ceramic cups and poured his own into a wooden bowl. “Tibetan style,” he said.

The three of us ate our fruit and sipped our tea in silence. We could not converse in Tibetan or English, so we simply took in the moment of togetherness knowing we were there for no other reason than togetherness.

In that precious stretch of silence, the sublime beauty of the randomness and simplicity of each other’s company was as palpable as the beat of my heart. It was a space of true spiritual well being for all of us, all because a humble 87-year-old extended a genuine offer of kindness and we said yes.

How did we ever forget love is as easy as that?


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