Part of the zen approach to life is to be like water, to go with the flow (and not see yourself as the water drop but as part of the water). Water can be gentle and soothing or powerful and instantly destructive, but the gentle trickle can accomplish lasting change – as any limestone can tell you – while the destruction wreaked by loud manifestations of water often gets repaired pretty quickly.
Water adapts to its surroundings, takes the shape of what it finds, does not insist on being anything else.
I know (of) someone who is like the sea, made up of many individual waves of dark and light, among and under which many sea creatures play and lurk. He sees himself aptly as a work of art, of light and shadow. The brain is infinitely more fascinating than beauty, he says, as beauty fades and changes and loses its appeal, but the workings of the brain continue to intrigue.
Most people, however, only get to see the cute little seal who waves one of his flippers at them, and are oblivious to the rest of him. What they don’t know either is that he does not choose to be this way. It is simply what he is and like water, he goes with the flow, adapting himself to the circumstances, but he is also the rock in the middle of the stream that watches and influences the flow of the water around him.
Throughout my life, I have found that in times of turbulence, most people around you will rapidly flow away along the path of least resistance to seek easier surroundings. (I said “most people”, as not all will do this.)
When all you have to rely on is yourself, you may have to be like the rock and not allow yourself to be swept away or swept along. This, then, will cause sand grains and pebbles and smaller rocks to snuggle up, finding shelter behind you, in your wake, for a while.
We’re all like the water and like the rock at times, and at other times, we have no choice but to be like the pebble that seeks shelter behind the rock to get some rest and recuperate.
Eventually, each rock turns into smaller rocks, then pebbles, then sand grains, only to be turned into massive rock again later. And then the cycle repeats itself.
We are all different, yet we are also all really the same.
From the Tao Te Ching:
The supreme good is like water,
which benefits all of creation
without trying to compete with it.
It gathers in unpopular places.
Thus it is like the Tao.
The location makes the dwelling good.
Depth of understanding makes the mind good.
A kind heart makes the giving good.
Integrity makes the government good.
Accomplishment makes your labors good.
Proper timing makes a decision good.
Only when there is no competition
will we all live in peace.
Also from the Tao Te Ching:
Water is the softest and most yielding substance.
Yet nothing is better than water,
for overcoming the hard and rigid,
because nothing can compete with it.
Everyone knows that the soft and yielding
overcomes the rigid and hard,
but few can put this knowledge into practice.
Therefore the Master says:
“Only he who is the lowest servant of the kingdom,
is worthy to become its ruler.
He who is willing to tackle the most unpleasant tasks,
is the best ruler in the world.”
True sayings seem contradictory.