“The theory of emptiness… is the deep recognition that there is a fundamental disparity between the way we perceive the world, including our own existence in it, and the way things actually are.” ~ H.H. XIV Dalai Lama
There isn’t a song title for this blog piece, but there should be, and it should be the one I made up.
In Buddhism we learn that everything is empty – void of anything good or bad from its own side. Because if say beetroot were delicious out “there” on its own, then all beings would love the taste, but we know that not to be true. According to Buddhism, it is your karma (good or bad) that we have created in previous lives that forces us to really enjoy or detest the taste of beetroot.
Now I am not about to launch into a prolonged discourse about Buddhist philosophy, it is merely to set the scene for the short piece about which I’d like to write.
Water. And more specifically water in India.
We as Westerners travel here with our fragile constitutions, always careful to drink only bottled water, not eating the street food, eating the street food, not eating meat or raw food, and the list goes on. We know the water in India will make us ill. When we set our eyes on Mother Ganga, or Kerala’s backwaters, we see dirty and polluted water – dead human and animal bodies, litter, raw sewage and the like.
But this is not the way Indian people in India see and experience water. Mother Ganga is holy, to bathe in Her waters is a great blessing. Kerala’s backwaters provide a refreshing dip, the ability to wash one’s clothes, dishes, and even water for cooking.
For Westerners and Indians alike, water here is simply two sides of the same coin. It is only how we perceive it that differs. In Buddhism we call this emptiness and karma. However you choose to explain such, it remains incredibly fascinating and beautiful.