This is a tale of a vision received on a beach in India.
I look around at the rubbish scattered everywhere, the sand stretching away littered in every direction with empty bottles, plastic bags, broken glass, and other less identifiable items. At the rows of stalls selling identical tourist trinkets. At the desperate-eyed men and women who wander the beach, asking for money in exchange for something – what, is unclear – at the horses and at the budgies kept close to them on tightly bound leashes.
The blasted landscape under the grey sky and reddening sun, the ancient crumbling temple on the shore surrounded by offerings of plastic and urine, the atomic powerplant looming ghostlily, a four-pillared mosque of destruction, on the horizon.
And Mother Ocean keeps dancing on.
“Shiva has already been here”, I say;
“This is a place of destruction and desolation.”
Shiva, smiling, hears me and appears, shaking his head.
“You humans did all this,” he assures me.
Then he looks thoughtful.
“Maybe it is time to shake things up a bit,” he muses, and opens his third eye.
There is a blast of blinding pink light.
When I look again, the beach is clean – uninterrupted sand running as far as I can see.
Other than this, the scene is the same as before.
“I put it all in the sea,” explains Shiva (whose third eye is closed again), with what seems like a mixture of mirth and pride.
He makes to turn away – I can see he is already getting into position to meditate – but I stop him, saying,
“Surely that is just creating more pollution in another place?”
And Mother Ocean accepts the gifts, with a sigh…
“And what about – all this?” I ask, gesturing at the stalls, the crowds, the horses; the sellers and the consumers, with their full hands and empty, empty eyes.
“Surely they will just create more rubbish, and within the next few hours it will look the same as it did before!”
Shiva looks around, smiling in quite a pleased way.
“Yes, it does look the same as it did before, doesn’t it?” he agrees.
“But, you see, I have replaced every single item in every one of those stalls. Every water bottle, every bangle, every ecosystem-destroying hand-crafted shell souvenir; down to the last tiny shell. They are all now illusions – little more than dust.”
I look around, not understanding.
“The sellers will continue to sell and the buyers will continue to buy,” Shiva continues,
“And probably no-one will notice, since they didn’t care what they were buying or selling anyway. They have trained their eyes to be blind. But from now on they deal only in illusions – and whatever waste they create is but a small amount of dust on the sand.”
He turns his formidable gaze to me, locks blowing slightly in the feeble sea breeze, and sees that I am still somewhat concerned.
“As for the rubbish in the sea,” he continues,
“It is even now collecting into a great island, which one day soon will hold half of all the things which you humans ever throw into the Ocean, while the other half collects in another island further away. A few of your human years from now, these islands will reach a critical mass of chemical constituency which will begin a process wherein the rubbish starts to become bio-remediated by naturally-occurring organisms that are even now evolving within the islands themselves.
It will take some time, before enough organic matter has broken down to create enough soil to begin holding fresh water, and enough fresh water to begin supporting plants and trees. But when that time has passed, there will be two more islands on this planet – vast, green, lush, verdant lands, with pure water and clean air”.
I marvel at this, my head reeling.
“Of course, lots of people will try to claim them; to use for prisons or fancy hotels or whatever the latest trend is at the time,” Shiva goes on, musing,
“But somehow I don’t think they will be successful.”
He starts to go back into his meditation pose, but I have one more question.
“Wait! What about the horses? And the budgies? All the trapped animals…Can they go free?”
He opens his eyes, blinking, as if he has just come from very far away.
“What? Oh. Nothing I can do about them – it’s their karma. Maybe next life…”
And he is gone.
And Mother Ocean continues her dance…