Oakville Zen Meditation

#108. Learning from water.9MAY16

The student asked “Learning from water? You must be kidding! What do you mean?”

To pay attention to water is a wonderful and peaceful exercise, almost a spiritual one. Being mindful to water puts everything in perspective including how lucky we are to be made of it.

Water is inside us, composing 70% of our total body weight, even ~ 77% of our brain. Blood, urine, saliva, digestive juices, eyes, joint fluids and sexual secretion are 95% water and over.

Without drinking around 8 ounces (2 L) a day of water, death is unavoidable within few days

Water is outside us: 330 million trillions gallons inside, on and above our planet! It is the same water for the last 4 billions years since no water is lost and none is created. Perfect recycling.

Yet, no one knows exactly how water was formed on our planet.

When we open our awareness to water, we realize what a miraculous substance it is.

  • It gave birth to the first life some 3.8 billions year ago.
  • It is transparent and yet can take on infinite colors.
  • It conforms to any container without resistance.
  • It can be vapor like cold clouds and hot steam, liquid like oceans, solid like icebergs, beautiful crystal like snow flakes.

If water gives and maintains life to all living being, it can also kill many of them during natural disasters and accidents such as drowning.

Taken for granted, we don’t pay attention to water unless there is a problem with it – toilet overflow, flooding, drought, poisoned water, hurricane, etc.

Student: “OK, OK, beside this philosophical statement, what is your point?”

As we become mindful to water, we can learn from it and teach our mind to behave the same way.

  • Just as water is able to flow without hindrance into any container, we should learn to cultivate a light, flexible and open mind and be able to flow into difficult situations as they arise and change, with less anxiety, stress and frustration and without energy - sapping resistance.
  • Just as the Colorado River took around 3.2 billions years to carve the rock, we should learn to cultivate patience, perseverance and discipline.
  • When we observe how water changes form and moves from different states - vapor, liquid and solid-, we also learn something about our lives and the truth about the power of impermanence.
  • When we observe how water is meandering to avoid rocks, hard banks and obstacles in moving around, we realize that it always takes the route of least resistance and don’t try to fight all the time when it is hopeless.

Maybe there is something to learn from the meanders of the rivers.

  • When muddy water is poured into a glass and that glass is shake, the water remains muddy and nothing can be seen through that glass. But when the glass is maintained still, the mud settles to the bottom and the water becomes clear like crystal.

Maybe there is also something to learn from it. When our mind is restless, anxious or fearful, it is hard to see any solution to our problems. By practicing mindfulness meditation we learn to control our agitated mind and let it regain its natural clarity.

  • As we watch a majestic waterfall, we realize that water does not mind to fall down from a great high, then to break down and even evaporate. It seems that water has no ego to defend.

Maybe there is something to learn regarding humility, acceptance and resilience when the circumstances are beyond our control or have no solutions.

  • During a big storm, huge black cumulus clouds collide head on and burst in an infernal hell of sound and lightening. Following this inferno, they become little white clouds.

Maybe we can learn that, after turmoil there is always calm.

  • When we watch a wave, we realize that it has a beginning (birth), a rolling (life) and an end (death) and return as ocean before becoming a new wave again.

Maybe we can learn from the waves that, we are also a transient entity coming and going within an endless cycle.

  • When we watch a rock hits the calm water of the lake, it creates ripples, which eventually disappear.

Maybe what we can learn from it is that, when adversity hits you in the face, eventually pain will dissipate.

  • When water becomes hot steam it can be used to cook your veggies and turn turbines for electricity,

Maybe we can learn to change our behavior to achieve useful and various tasks.

Understanding, observing and duplicating water behavior can be a wonderful exercise in achieving quiet mind serenity and in assisting others.