Brief Reflection - Chasing Rainbows

by Marc Forest

Clear blue sky, summer morning in beautiful Nanaimo, B.C. I was on retreat. While having my breakfast I was looking out over a lawn being watered by a sprinkler. The sprinkler was the kind that oscillates back and forth over a section of the lawn. You know the sprinkler. It has that unique summer sound of chh-chh-chh in one direction, then a quick change of direction with a sound of trr-trr-trr-trr.

When this sprinkler’s water came around to a certain spot, it created a momentary rainbow which disappeared as it continued on its oscillating path. Each and every time it came back to this approximate spot, a rainbow was formed again and again and again.

What a perfect example of Buddha’s teaching on the law of conditionality. Basically, this law states that ‘when this exists, that exists, when this arises, that arises’. All of the conditions needed to make a rainbow converged every time at this one particular area on its path. The conditions of light and moisture (and maybe a dozen other changing things) collided and there was a rainbow created by those conditions.

This confirms for me that every experience we have is made up of myriad conditions coming together in one particular instant. When one of those conditions changes, so does the experience. Poof! It’s gone and replaced by another conditioned experience. Just like the rainbow.

What can we do with the teaching of this truth? Inquire deeply into what it is we cling or yearn for. Pay attention to what’s going on. Wisely reflect to see clearly how conditions change every instant, including the one you are experiencing at this very moment. Bring awareness to the truth that everything arises and also ceases, over and over, again and again and again, dependent on impersonal conditions.

What impersonal conditions make up your rainbows?