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.
6 thoughts on “Timely Rain and The Buddha’s Influence”
Lovely post! When we moved Lions Gate Buddhist Priory to Dragon Flower Mtn. we had a drilling rig here for a well. At 650 ft. we still hadn’t hit water. RM Koten felt it would be good to do the Prayer to the Dragon for Rain Ceremony. Two hr later, at 700 ft, we had an artesian well. Our dubious neighbour asked if we thought our ceremony changed the laws of physics. “No, Rev. Master replied. “That would be magic. Buddhist monks don’t do magic. It was good to do the ceremony, but we make no claims.” Still, I did thank the dragons for our well, now named Dragon Well.
Ah yes. I know about the well story and thought to mention it in this post, so thanks for recounting it in this comment. The well has made it possible for you all to live up there on the land. Gosh, I wonder if I’ll have a chance to visit before returning to the UK.
Lovely post Rev. Mugo. I am sorry we missed you at the Abbey this trip. There was certainly a rain of compassion felt by this trainee.
And I think the rain was falling equally on everybody especially including the Reverends around you. Hope to see you soon. Lovely statue you have now for the meditation group. Saw it on your blog – must leave a comment. OK if I link to your blog by the way?
Hi Rev. Mugo;
Oh sure, no problem with the linking. Its a lovely statue isn’t it?
Hope to see you too.
Thanks. Yes it is lovely. Open and soft.