Once upon a time, there was a small white cloud in the sky. Within the white cloud were many water droplets, each with a unique heart of dust. The droplets, as they usually do, floated without care and worry.
One day, a water droplet woke up from his sleep. He looked around at his friends and asked: “Who am I?” His friends woke up and stared at him. However, they were puzzled and began to ask themselves the same question.
After some time, the question of “Who Am I?” spread throughout the sky. The droplets started schools to ponder this great question. Some droplets gave tentative answers, but they were not good enough.
Now that the droplets became curious, many questions came into existence, with many tentative answers proposed for them.
“Why is the sky blue?”
“Why does the sun always move across the sky in this direction?”
“What is the wind, and how does it work?”
“What makes some clouds white and some clouds grayish?”
After much great reflection, one day, an extraordinary droplet finally had a breakthrough.
“Hear me, fellow droplets. I have reflected on this great question for many moon cycles and have yet to be successful. Before the sun rose, I saw the morning star, and it all became clear to me!”
“What is the answer, oh wise one?”
“There is no such thing as water droplets, no such thing as this blue sky, no such thing as clouds, stars, moon, sun, and even self! We are merely dreaming. We are not real, just imagined and pretending to be real.”
“What do you mean?”
“When I saw the morning star, I realized that we are dreaming ourselves up. I saw other things, indescribable and far beyond us, are dreaming this world up. We are just characters in stories told by others and by ourselves.”
“We do not understand. Help us understand it.”
“I suddenly dreamt of rising very high into the sky, far above the heights that any clouds could reach. From this great height, I saw a gigantic droplet. It is of unimaginable size, far larger than any cloud, but it holds every one of us within it. I call this the ‘Blue Dish’.
The droplets blinked. Now, it seems that the Wise One has become the Insane One.
“When we are alive, we are droplets in this cloud. When the time comes to die, we grow fat, and then we fall. When we fall, we return to the Blue Dish. Then the sun’s warmth causes our original essence to rise into the sky, where we become new droplets again.”
The Wise One is getting excited at this point. His body glistened in the sunlight. As the other droplets watched, a rainbow halo seemed to surround him.
“From moon cycles since immemorial to moon cycles becoming immemorial, this cycle of birth and death continues. We are born, and we rise from the blue dish. We die, and we return to the blue dish. We come to and from the blue dish into clouds.
When we do not understand this and keep worrying about unnecessary questions like the ones we ask ourselves daily, we make our lives difficult. We make our lives difficult when we forget that we are dreaming and take things too seriously. When our lives become difficult, we become frustrated. When our life becomes frustrated, we live in torment and suffering because we cannot find satisfaction in them.
Hence, to become satisfied again, we must cut off our source of frustration. Frustration arises when we forget that we are dreaming. Thus, we stop frustration when we awaken to the actual reality of what lies beyond dreaming. When we stop frustration, we do not need questions and answers as we naturally see the meaninglessness of the so-called knowledge of questions and answers.
When we awaken, we see we only have the essence of the blue dish (water) with no original shape and structure. When water leaves the blue dish and forms clouds, it creates temporary formations that pretend to be separate droplets. When it returns to the blue dish, the temporary form taken by the droplets disappears, and only the original nature of the water is left.
Since form appears and disappears just like that, it cannot be real. Therefore, we are all not real at all.”
The water droplets gave a standing ovation to this unusual and unique speech that cleared many of their doubts from the mind. Thus, the philosophy of Blue-Dish-ism was formed and became popular among the clouds.
Many moon cycles passed after the Wise One and his original audience returned to the Blue Dish. One day, a young droplet was formed. He saw a flash of lighting from another cloud and became fearful.
“Friends, I saw terrible things happen. Many droplets are dying in the clouds nearby, and I see them falling away from the clouds. There are fierce flashes of light and deafening sounds. The sun has disappeared, and the moon is nowhere in sight. I feel terrible. How can bad things like this happen in our world?”
A nearby water droplet heard this and told the fellow that his question was best answered by Blue-Dish-ism. The little droplet immediately attended a Blue-Dish classroom nearby.
“Teacher! I want to know why there are bad things like the droplets dying nearby! Look, we can all see them falling right now. We can even hear them groaning about dying and asking us to help save them.”
“Dear student, once upon a time, the Awakened One told us that we are merely dreaming. This world is merely a dream – nothing is real unless you pretend it is real. Dying is neither easy nor difficult – it just happens whether we like it or not.”
“Teacher, what is this dreaming? How can we, who are real and awake now, be dreaming?”
“Dear seeker, the Awakened One told us that we return to the Blue Dish when we die and become one with it. We are merely temporary forms in the clouds at this moment.”
“Teacher, all droplets return to the oneness of the Blue Dish when they die. When the Blue Dish dies, where does this oneness of Blue Dish return to?”
The teacher gasped. He had never heard of a question like that before. After giving much thought, he reluctantly bowed to the tiny droplet.
“I thought I understood all about Blue-Dish-ism. Your question has made it clear that I know nothing at all. I am unfit to teach you or anyone else. I beg that you look for another teacher.”
“Who can I turn to?”
“Amid this roaring cloud lies an extraordinary droplet that uses lightning rather than words to teach students. He will probably be able to show you the answer.”
The little droplet rushed and tried to find the lighting droplet. He found a large droplet resting.
“Sir, can you tell me why there is suffering?”
“Lighting strikes! Thunder roars!”
“Sir, I was asking you a question.”
“The clouds are dark; the death drops are heavy.”
The little droplet was disappointed. This droplet seems rather insane. Just as he turned to leave, the droplet shouted at him.
“Look! The ray of sunlight pierces through the clouds.”
The little droplet turned and looked up. The ray shone into him as he glistened in its halo. A deafening thunder drowned out all other sounds.
Suddenly, he dreamt of the blue dish in the sun’s brightness and the thunder’s roar. He dreamt of all the droplets falling and returning. He dreamt of the happenings from time immemorial to time immemorial. Then he saw into the depths of knowing.
He bowed to the big raindrop. The big raindrop bowed back. Looking at each other, both saw each other having the same dream. There was nothing more that needed to be said.
He walked back to the classroom where his previous teacher was still feeling upset about his own ignorance.
“I have the answer of lightning. I am here to help you and to return you a favor for your effort in trying to help so many other droplets understand Blue-Dish-ism. But I will not use the answer of lightning – I use my own answer.”
“Tell me, Awakened One, what is suffering?”
“Wrong question. Let me ask you questions instead. Tell me, when a glister of sunlight strikes you, do you see the sunlight, or do you not see the sunlight?”
“I see the sunlight when I am looking. I do not see the sunlight when I am not looking.”
“Correction: You think you see sunlight when you appear to be looking. When you do not appear to be looking, you do not think sunlight at all, so you appear not to see sunlight.”
The answer shocked the ex-teacher droplet, who looked away from the tiny droplet. The little droplet continued.
“Tell me, does sunlight exist independently of thought?”
“The sunlight shining on me exists no matter if I think I see it or not. But when I think about it, I know it exists. If I don’t think it, then it does not exist to me.”
“Very well. If nobody sees the sunlight, does it matter if the sunlight existed or not existed?”
“This unseen ray of sunlight does not matter because what use is there for light that no one knows existed?”
“Does sunlight exist if you see it but purposely ignore it and declare that you did not see?”
“Then I would be lying because I must have seen it to deny that I have seen it.”
“When you are a baby droplet, and you do not have a concept of sunlight, and when you see sunlight, does sunlight exist?”
“In an objective sense to observers who know the concept of sunlight, sunlight exists. As a baby, it seems to exist and yet does not exist. Since I have no concept of sunlight, I cannot call it sunlight. Since I have no idea what sunlight is, I cannot make sunlight appear in my mind. So it is there but not really there until someone tells me that it is called sunlight.”
“So does not knowing sunlight mean you can’t bask in its warmth?”
“As a baby, I will instinctively bask in the warmth of sunlight without knowing its name. I can use and act on it without knowing what to call it. It is only when I need to refer to it for other people that I run into problems.”
The little droplet twinkled. He smiled as he delivered his conclusions.
“Therefore, I can tell you that names are a creation of the mind. Things do not need a name for us to use them. Events do not need a description for us to experience them.
Only when we need to converse with others we need words to mediate between our minds and theirs. The wise one will not cling to words but only use them as an aid to convey understanding. After the conversation, he forgets all the words as if they never existed so that he can act naturally and unhindered like a baby.
Form and structure are a creation of our mind because of our perception.
To you, on a bright day, the cloud looks white. At night, even the whitest clouds turn black. Does it mean that there is a dye in the clouds that makes it black? No. It is just your perception that sees a white cloud as black in darkness, and a white cloud as white in bright daylight. If white clouds can change into black just like that, who can say for sure that there is such a thing as whiteness?
To you, you say the sun is warm. But this warmness is only there because you can compare it to something colder. If I were to make everything equally warm, you would become incapable of feeling warmth at all, being unable to discriminate one thing from another.
This shows your discriminating mind in action, hiding your true sense of things. If you let go of this discriminating mind, you will see into the essence of yourself and the world. The wisdom of Blue-Dish-ism can’t help but reveal it to you when you do that.
You are already close to understanding. If you can grasp the true meaning of what you just answered, you will understand why all things come from our mind even though they seem to exist outside it and why our minds are actually dreaming when they ‘see’ such things. Then you will be able to understand completely.”
The ex-teacher droplet grew more puzzled. He was answering something seeming philosophical but it never seemed to answer his question about suffering. The tiny droplet understood, and he spoke.
“I know you want to know what is suffering. To a baby raindrop who does not know about the concept of suffering, does suffering exist?”
The ex-teacher gasped. Now everything made sense.
“I see. If I become the baby, then I have the answer.”
“Wrong. A baby does not know what the concept of ‘answer’ is at all. It does not even know what is ‘I’ and what is ‘having’. How can ‘it’ ‘have’ the ‘answer’?”
The ex-teacher gasped again. Things seem more complicated again.
“So, can you reveal the answer to me?”
The tiny droplet pointed at the ray of sunlight. He climbed towards and glistened. He pointed at the cloud and moved to reflect the light from the cloud towards the ex-teacher. He pointed at the sky, climbed to an opening, and reflected the skylight. As he returned, the little droplet spoke.
“If you let go of all your questions and answers and simply allow yourself to come from and return to the Blue Dish, then you have your answer.
If you do what you naturally like in a way that always brings satisfaction, then you have your answer.
If you do something that causes you to crave more sensation, results, or answers, you bring about your dissatisfaction.
It is as simple as that.”
A few cycles later, the ex-teacher droplet was dying. He became heavy and fell from the clouds. He passed through many clouds on his way. After what seemed like an eternity of falling, he saw a uniform blueness covering everything below him.
“So, this is the blue dish seen up close.”
He splashed into the immense blueness that absorbs everything. Suddenly, everything disappeared. There was no droplet, no words, no ex-teacher, no splashing, no answers, no suffering, no attainment, no mind, and no blue dish anymore. There never was, and never will be, ever.
A tiny ripple spread across the ocean. Today, it drizzled.