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Taoist monks bless Barton Springs Pool

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TWC News: Taoist monks bless Barton Springs Pool
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The symbols, scents and sounds of an ancient ritual silenced the crowd at Barton Springs Tuesday.

There was no talking, cheering or shouting. Even the babies stopped crying.

"People are transfixed," Healing Tao Institute director Jampa Stewart said.

About 500 people poured into Zilker Park to soak in the vibes of the spiritual ceremony -- the first of its kind ever performed in the U.S.

"This is a blessing ceremony performed by Wudang priests," Stewart said. Wudang is a religious sect of Taoism. These priests come from Central China.

“It was more exotic than the music we usually hear, like it was from a far off place," spectator Robert Corbin said.

Yun Xiang Tseng is a Wudang priest. He's traveling across the country. He wants to raise money to build the first Wudang temple in the U.S.

"Promoting our culture from East to West has always been my mission," Tseng said.

"We have a great impression of Austin people warm and very open-minded," Tseng said.

The monks say part of what makes Austin such a spiritual place is its most popular watering hole, Barton Springs because in the Tao religion, water is the source of life.

"This is the main artery of the city of Austin, so we do blessing here, it's blessing the whole city," Tseng said.

Robert Corbin says Barton Springs could use an extra blessing these days.

"People don't realize the value it has to the city economically and spiritually. There would be a lot of suffering in the community if something happened to the springs," Corbin said.

When it comes time for Cheng to build his Wudang temple some spectators hope he'll pick Austin. He hopes the monks' performance can help raise awareness about their religion and the spring that inspired this ceremony.

"This is the most spiritual place in Austin. No doubt about it," Corbin said.

The Wudang Muntains in China are the legendary birthplace of
Tai Chi. The Save Our Springs Alliance helped bring the monks to Austin. The monks also performed a blessing ceremony at the Texas Capitol.

They have two other scheduled performances at Akins High School Performing Arts Center in South Austin Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Tickets for those shows are $28.

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