Thursday, March 22, 2007

A Way Like Water

After a couple days' rumination, some thoughts on chapter 43 from the Tao te Ching.

What I normally thing of as "to be like water" is to go with the flow, to take the path of least resistance. It seems like a good starting point, but not a complete instruction. At points one will want to embody the wearing qualities of water, to change or redirect events... but wisdom, I think, must guide one - just because we have power doesn't mean it is wise always to use it. Observation and consideration, then, should occupy the bulk of one's time. Decisive action - right action, right timing - occasional, but powerful for the deliberation guiding it.

That would be the ideal, of course - experienced reality may vary...

6 comments:

Hayden said...

I have no clue what this "should" mean.

but

when I think of water I think of it's great power to go everywhere, to choose multiple forms, to be slow or fast. Water can snap a ship in two, or it can allow you to float benignly on it's surface, as if it were a cradle.....

water is always what it is, nothing less, nothing disguised, no pretense.

Jon said...

I loved your post, and especially your little disclaimer: "experienced reality may vary!"

Love it.

Aquafraternally yours,

jon

Dan said...

Yep!

jbmoore said...

The metaphor is appropriate. Can you stretch it further? Water can be solid, liquid, or gas. It can be heavy (deuterium) or light (normal). For instance, heavy water reactors use natural unprocessed uranium. Is that a more enlightened use of technology to generate power instead of relying on enriched uranium light water reactors to generate power. The enriched uranium processing plants can also make weapons grade uranium. A lot of stress, waste and pollution is due to the burning of fossil fuels. This impacts the daily experience of the enlightened and unenlightened. Which is the wisest course? Biofuels seem to be a joke. You're still putting carbon into the atmosphere as CO2.While there is only the Now, doing the right thing now, will be cheaper than doing it later. Just stretching your metaphor in a different direction so that you can stretch your imagination.

bert said...

I think what Lao Tze really wanted to say is this: Try to follow the course of your heart, it's like water, it wants to follow the path of what it thinks is the one with the least resistance. We have our minds who try to blur the ways of our heart, because as soon as we start to rationalize every decision, we no longer follow the ways of our heart, of the least resistance.

To flow like water is to chase what your heart tells you. This can be either very positive or very dangerous, it's up to you to find out ...

Alexis TanĨibok said...

water is a wonderful image on so many levels. It is fluid, expressive, creative, destructive, and it has substance - which itself is a curious characteristic.

In approaching water - if one comes into contact and joins the water - one can go where it goes. Likewise one might choose to be stationary and let the water envelop, or even part and pass by, causing no injury, leaving no trace (well aside from you being rather moist). What is rather surprising though, is when one tires to violently or abruptly push against the body of water - then what appears to be insubstantial - demonstrates the quality of substance. Try it yourself, with a flat palm, "smack" a body of water, the quality of substance is there, it resists, and leave you with a rather uncomfortable reminder - just because its fluid, just because it bends, and curves, and folds, and sloshes, does not mean that it is under your power or control, it does not mean that it is without the quality of substance.