A late afternoon saunter with a fellow monastic walking companion. A lake-side saunter. Wonderful! The sound of water lapping gently on the shores of Lake Siskiyou! Double wonderful! Double wonderful because the lake has been not much more than a muddy puddle for several years. Now, water to the shore-line telling of the recent heavy rains. All is well with the world, very well. To have the lake restored to its deep watery glory is a boon beyond measure.
At times of drought in the almost long forgotten past in the East Buddhists priests performed a ceremony invoking the name of the Dragon King, who controls water, politely yet insistently asking for rain. We have records of such a ceremony and when push comes to shove, we use them. Does rain fall as a result of performing this ceremony? I’m not saying. Eventually rain does come whether due to the Dragon King’s good grace or not would be difficult to say. We Westerners can get overly squeamish around religious ceremonies at the best of times, praying for rain might just tip the balance, for some. So I encourage an attitude of creative doubt in this regard. In other words, best to keep an open mind.
Back in September we had been under threat from forest fires, we desperately needed rain. One night it rained. I remember hearing water dripping from the guttering outside of my room. I could smell the dampness coming in through my window. Next morning I was celebrant for morning service. It is our custom to say a few words as we offer incense at the start of the ceremony. I said thank you for the timely rain. Had I been asking for help from the watery dragons? Not at all.
What I can say is that sincere Buddhist practice, sustained over time has unseen and unknowable consequences. I’m content to not know and be grateful for what ever comes.
But you know, the idea of good-natured and generous dragons has a certain appeal. This post is for all those who are thirsty, for water or anything else.