Essential Nature of Water
Saraha the Arrowmaker, one of the 84 Great Yogis of the Indo-Tibetan
tradition, in his Queen Doha, advises practitioners that:
Only a holy guru can bring about the understanding That in Emptiness all
diverse phenomena Are one and the same. This supremely noble one is like
the water unto
Water is generally thought of as pure by its very nature, the essence of life and
more precious to us than any other substance. We can go a long time
without food, but less than a week without water. We are almost always
thirsty, and Milarepa reminds us:
All the water and drink you've consumed
Through beginning-less time until now
Has failed to slake thirst or bring you contentment
Drink therefore this stream
Of enlightenment mind, fortunate ones.
Tilopa, in the instruction known as "The Ganges Mahamudra,"
compares the mind to river water:
"Allow the cloudy water of thought to clarify itself or to clear itself.
Do not attempt to stop or create appearances. Leave them as they are.
If you are without acceptance and rejection of external appearances, all that
appears and exists will be liberated as mudra. ["mudra" here means,
gesture or display]
~ Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche. The Life of Tilopa and
The Ganges Mahamudra.
Good water, that is, water suitable for offerings, is traditionally
considered to have 8 fine qualities. It is delicious, cool, smooth,
light, clear, pure, and harmful neither to throat nor stomach. The Indian master Atisha, who visited Tibet in
the eleventh century with far-reaching and profound effect, praised the water
of that land saying that in simply appreciating its excellent qualities,
it could be mentally offered joyfully to the Buddhas. Also
Water can be easily and honestly obtained and when offering it one
can imagine washing away the miserliness of all sentient beings.
It was once a saying among Tibet people, that while Indians are
clean outside, Tibetans are clean inside. This was a dig at the fact that in India, a land in which
water is liberally available, there are many purification rituals during
the day in which water must be used. For personal grooming Tibetans used
other methods beside washing, often making
do with dust or sand, and in winter, snow.
Buddhist shrines generally have seven bowls of water offerings set in a row
before the main image. That is because water can stand for all offerings.
For more about
shrine and the traditional offerings.
Saffron is sometimes added to the water, which contributes a golden hue and a slightly
In the mythology of the world, water pays a supreme role. Many deities
are associated with it, and their names reflect this connection that evokes
their role in dispensing fertility or prosperity of all kinds. The popular
contemporary name Sara meaning flowing is related to that of Saraswati,
a key goddess in Hinduism, who as White Tara also appears in the imagery
of Tibetan Buddhism. The demise of the Indus Valley cities of
Mohenjodara and Harappa is attributed to the drying up of the legendary
The Old Testament contains much about the distinctions between "the waters
above and the waters below" and between salt and fresh water. The Leto cycle of Greek
myths is liberally "sprinkled" with references to water, both
sweet and salt; both flowing and still.
In the beginning was voidness, a vast emptiness without cause, without end.
From this great voidness there arose gentle stirrings of wind, which after countless eons grew thicker and heavier, forming the mighty double
thunderbolt sceptre of Dorje Gyatram.
Dorje Gyatram created the clouds, which in turn created the rain. The rain fell for many years until the primeval ocean was formed. Then, all was calm, quiet, and peaceful; the ocean became clear as a mirror.
However, the ocean is an aspect of our world which few inhabitants of Tibet ever get
to actually see. Knowledge of it is mainly through the mythology of the
region and references in Buddhist scripture.
"In the company of monks," Savannah Morning News, Jan. 19, 2003:
The dozen Tibetan [Drepung Loseling] monks that walked on the Tybee Island pier last Sunday morning had never
seen an ocean before.
When they reached the end of the pier, they stopped for a moment. They glanced to the
left, the right, and ahead toward the horizon, as far as their eyes could see. Then all 12
turned around and walked back to the van they had just climbed out of.
"What's wrong?" asked their escort, Murray Silver, who thought that showing the monks the
ocean for the first time would be a momentous and special occasion.
One of them replied with a question: "Is it going to do anything different then
[sic] it is
Silver thought about it. "No," he said.
"Then we get it," the monk explained. "Let's go."
The ocean is the symbol of Profound, Extensive Wisdom and both titles, Dalai Lama and Gyalwa Karmapa,
allude to it. The first is the word for ocean in Mongolian, the second is ocean
in Tibetan. In Tibet, the Dalai Lama is actually known as Gyalwa Rinpoche.
It is the source of the Pearl of Wisdom or Pill of Immortality
that images of some deities may be seen holding with the fingertips, usually of the
right hand. The makara that was our emblem for
Year of the Water Horse has churned up some of these pearls which we can see
embedded in the waves at its tail.
India and other parts of South Asia experience a period of intense rains
known as monsoon. In accordance with the instructions of the Buddha as
set out in the Vinaya, or "rule", all monks and nuns are enjoined to return to
the monastery during monsoon season. It is sometimes said that one of the
reasons for this is that many small living creatures are driven from their homes
at that time, and when the road is muddy or completely flooded, we might
inadvertently cause them harm.
During this retreat time, the monks observe certain restrictions and engage in meditation and
other special practices. Yarney is the Tibetan term for this period
which runs for one and a half months -- from the 15th day of the 6th lunar month to the 30th day of the 7th lunar month.
confession is done by the sangha on two occasions during this time, and on the evening of the 30th, the last day of the retreat, selected monks
teach the Dharma to the local community.
At the end of July 2002 when flood waters covered 2/3rds of Bangladesh but
made no seasonal appearance in other parts of the north Indian region, the Tibetan monks
of the area assembled in the holy city of Varanasi (Benares) for mass prayers to
propitiate the rain god. These Mahamegha prayers were performed in
Tibet during times of drought.
- A warm welcome to Monsoon, Dharamshala, 17 June
This summer has been exceptionally hot all over India, with the heat wave taking a heavy toll of lives of thousands of people.
Reports of delayed monsoon further exacerbated the situation with many looking out for ways to escape
what one journalist has aptly described as 'the inferno'. For many of the well-to-do families, hill
stations became the favourite destination to get some respite from the heat, but the poor peasants relied on
spiritual miracles by invoking gods to call for the quick arrival of the monsoon rain.
In Dharamsala, the prolonged spell of hot and dry summer has left many worried. Long dry summer means
serious problems of water shortage. For the residents here, this remains the most worrisome issue. Through
the years, with a certain change in the weather pattern, the availability of drinking water has
decreased considerably. And this summer is no different. A cautionary letter has already been
circulated by the Health Department of the Central Tibetan Administration to the staff to use water
In Mcleod Gunj, restaurant owners and the residents have started buying water on regular basis
brought in tankers. With the dreadful thought of the glaciers (the source of water here) melting faster
than usual and the discomfort of spending hot lazy days, people here, like in rest of the country, have
of late started wishing for the monsoon to hit soon.
Till yesterday late afternoon 16 June, this seemed like a wishful thinking with the days continuing to be
exceptionally hot and dry. The first pre-monsoon shower occurred much to the relief and surprise of the
people here. Four hours of pelting rain washed the whole hill town, cooling the air and bringing smile on
everyone's face. Streams of gurgling muddy water flowed through every hole and crevice draining the
whole place clean. When asked whether it is really the monsoon we are having, one beaming Tibetan bureaucrat
responds quickly, "no doubt about that because the element of surprise is clearly there." He succinctly
described Dharamsala's monsoon which is considered very unpredictable.
Now that this north westerly monsoon is here, its story will continue for the next few months. As a
Chinese saying goes, "fish and guest start stinking
after three days," the monsoon too will see itself stinking and wished by the people never to have
arrived. However, as of now, it is most needed and
warmly welcomed. Tashi Tsering who lives in Mcleod Gunj thinks his neighbours will now not have to wait
in line for water in front of the public tap in the middle of the Mcleod Gunj street.
A flood covering the entire world appears in a variety of different
mythologies, not only in Judeo-Christianity. In one of the Mesopotamian accounts of the deluge, the Sumerian sky god Enki, told Atrahasis to build a boat so that mankind
would be saved from the great flood that would occur when it rained for days. In India,
Manu the lawgiver saves humanity after a universal flood. A similar theme
appears in the mythologies of the New World.
Samsara -- worldly existence with its ties and obligations, desires and
aversions -- is likened to a flood: waters raging out of bounds and out of
control that can easily sweep us away. In Buddhist literature, the Dharma
is often compared to a raft that will swiftly and safely carry us across the
flood to the farther shore that is the state of no further suffering, or
Ghantapada caused a flood when the king, his student, spilled an offering.
Does Water Respond to "Vibes"?
Emoto Masaru claims magnetic resonance imaging shows that
the crystalline structure of water responds to verbal messages.
However, there has been "no replication by scientists, no control groups, and
no publications in reputable peer reviewed scientific journals.” Reputable
researchers find his "discovery" to be complete balderdash.
will give a certified cheque for one million dollars to anyone who can prove
any such ideas.)
Flim-flam! Psychics, ESP, Unicorns, and Other
Delusions by James Randi.
Drepung Loseling monks: The small
company was in Savannah, Georgia, to do an Akshobya ritual and mandala as
a healing for violence plaguing that town.
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