A question of perspective: valid cognizers

By the force of the ripening of one’s own personal actions, the thing that is a river is seen by hungry ghosts to be filled with pus. For animals, such as fish and so forth, due to their awareness [perceiving] an abode, the very [same river] functions as an abode. On the other hand, human beings conceive it to be water that is sweet, limpid, and cool, use it to wash, and engage in drinking it. The gods absorbed in the infinite space sphere are described as seeing it as space because they have destroyed the discrimination of form.

~ Bhadantopasaka as quoted by Lama Tsongkhapa in his Illumination of the Thought

These astonishing, dazzling photos of grains of sand magnified several hundred times, illustrate the idea that each type of sentient being experiences reality in a unique manner depending on karma. Here’s an entirely different way of seeing something that we are all familiar with. Others’ perception of sand, for example, a sand crab’s, is unlike ours. Yet these different experiences of the same object are equally valid and not contradictory.


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