Why the Sky is Blue

Why the Sky is Blue

Date of Advice:
May 2017
Date Posted:
August 2019

Rinpoche wrote this letter to a student’s nine-year-old son who had memorized the Three Principal Aspects of the Path and sent a video to Rinpoche of this recitation. Rinpoche saw another video of the boy explaining why the sky appears blue according to science. The boy was also studying Discovering Buddhism and Living in the Path.

This stupa contains a relic and powerful mantras. When held over the water, it blesses all beings that go below it or are touched by its shadow. Photo: Holly Ansett, October 2016.

My most dear, most kind, most precious, wish-fulfilling one,
Thank you so much, I am so happy that you were able to memorize the Three Principal Aspects of the Path. Thank you very, very, very much. Also, thank you so much for studying Discovering Buddhism and Living in the Path. This is very good.

I also happened to see your video explaining why the sky is blue; it came up afterward. I wanted to tell you about this point according to Buddhist teachings. You may find it interesting.

According to the Buddha’s teachings, there are four continents around Mount Meru and we live on the southern continent where the sky is blue. The southern side of Mount Meru, which faces the southern continent, is sapphire blue, deep blue. Therefore, on the southern continent, where we are living, the sky is blue and also the water is blue.

The sky is a reflection according to the color on each of the four sides of Mount Meru. On each continent the color of the sky is different. The eastern continent has a white sky because that side of Mount Meru is silver, therefore the sky is white and the ocean is white. The western continent has a red sky and the ocean is red, because that side of Mount Meru is ruby. The northern side of Mount Meru is gold, so on the northern continent the color of the sky and ocean is gold.

Many years ago in Switzerland one man had the feeling that there was someone coming from outside, from a different universe, so he set up a camera near three lakes. Then a flying saucer came and a lady with long ears came out. She said she came from the western continent, where people lived for one thousand years. This is actually the same as in the teachings, which say that everyone on the western continent lives for one thousand years and also that there are no poor people, everyone is wealthy. Anyway, she said a few words and went back, and the man took a picture. So aliens did happen in past years and in different places.

Mount Meru has four levels under the ocean and four levels above the ocean, where there are situated different devas. There are four guardians on top of Mount Meru and there is the realm of the thirty-three devas and also Tushita, which is not a pure land but an ordinary deva realm.1 So there are categories like this.2

Only those who have the karma or maybe psychic power can see Mount Meru.

Another example is liquid in a bowl. For human beings it appears as water and they see water. For preta beings that same liquid appears as pus and blood. Ugly, dirty things appear and this is how they see the liquid. They don’t have the merit, the good karma to see water, for it to appear as water. For deva beings the same liquid in the same bowl appears as nectar and they see nectar. Devas have much more merit than humans, so this is their reality.

Similarly, if one hundred people look at one person, some see that person as very ugly, some other people see that person as the most beautiful person and some see the person as indifferent. Among one hundred people they all see something different, but it’s the same person. This is due to the karma that they collected in the past and the imprint of that karma. They see the object, one person’s body, in different ways. Some see the person as beautiful, some as ugly and some as indifferent.

It is also like this for us. If we see somebody who is ugly and then we see somebody who is uglier, compared to the second person we now see the first person as beautiful. Or maybe there is somebody we see as beautiful, then we see someone more beautiful, so then the first person seems ugly in our view. This is according to karma and it shows that the nature of the mind is not the same.

That also happens with a place. For some people the place is very beautiful, for some people it is ugly and for others it is just OK. Also with food: for some people the food is very delicious, for some people it is very bad and for others it is indifferent. So for different people it is like that. There are many examples.

This shows how everything comes from the mind, according to different karma and arising from imprints left from the past. This is very important to understand.

There are material objects that some people can see and other people can’t see. When their karma ripens then the person can see those objects.

I am very happy that you were able to memorize the Three Principal Aspects of the Path. Thank you a billion, zillion trillion times from my heart.

With much love and prayers ...


1 There are two Tushita realms (Tib: ganden). One is a pure realm and the other is the abode of one of the six divisions of desire realm gods (Tib: död lha rig drug; Wyl: 'dod lha rigs drug). [Return to text]

2 There are six abodes of the desire realm gods. From the lowest to the highest, they are:

1. The heaven of the four great kings (Tib: gyalchen rizhi; Wyl: rgyal chen ris bzhi)
2. The heaven of the thirty-three (Tib: sumchu tsa sum; Wyl: sum cu rtsa gsum)
3. Free from conflict (Tib: thab dräl; Wyl: 'thab bral)
4. Joyful (Tib: ganden; Wyl: dga' ldan)
5. Joyful emanation (Tib: trulga; Wyl: 'phrul dga')
6. Power over others' emanations (Tib: zhentrul wangje; Wyl: gzhan 'phrul dbang byed) [Return to text]