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The River

  1. Nov 23, 2004 #1
    I once had a co-worker and close friend, who was a 2nd degree black belt in Sho en ru (sp?) Karate and had his own dojo. He was practicing, teaching and of course learning a form of Zen meditation. He told that the way he looked at it was that we were all travelers on the same river. Some of us were swimming hard down stream. Others were just floating along on the current, going with the flow. Others were swimming as hard as they could upstream just to stay where they were. Some of us are caught in a snag or log jam or stuck on a sand bar or an island in the river. We are all at different places and all going at our own pace; but, we are all on the same river, going the same place. I’ve never forgotten this piece of wisdom, understanding and tolerance.

    To expand upon this allegory to fit some of my own thinking, we all are coming from different places, streams, tributaries if you will and must travel our own path along the river system at our own speed. Some times we get hung up. Some time we take a break and rest for a while on and island; but, we all are on the same river system, all going the same place.

    Whether we apply this to our spiritual, religious, enlightenment, education, maturity or to all of life in general, I think that it applies equally well to all of them.

    I invite your comment, opinions, or other similar bits of wisdom you may have learned along your particular path.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 23, 2004 #2

    Les Sleeth

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    I like the perspective when it is interpreted as a way to encourage viewing our fellow human beings with respect and tolerance, and in the sense we are all here to have a life and to learn in the ways we choose. I also know there are more profound interpretations too, like existence is a great river, with life flowing in and out, carried by the force of a greater consciousness. Another "inner" intepretation I am familiar with has to do with letting go and surrendering, which seem related to the idea of flowing.

    However, I've seen this idea misapplied too. Not all approaches are equal. If a person wants to do their thing without hurting others, then it seems to me it's their life to do with as they please. But if they are going to enter discussions about how things are done, then the issue may arise of which approach works best (or at all). If someone claims the best way to realize God is by smoking pot, I will probably dispute that as true (Rastafarians notwithstanding). I won't interfer with his personal attempt to do so (unless he's my kid :biggrin: ); I will only question it once he proposes it as a general principle.

    So I'd say about the "flow," it is a good thing to respect other's sovernty over their own life, and it is also a good thing to know how to be critically analytical.
  4. Nov 26, 2004 #3
    What about those guys that are standing on the banks, watching the whole thing go by? :wink: Isn't this where we ultimately want to be? ... Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily ...
  5. Dec 3, 2004 #4


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    ever since i was introduced to the Tao philosophy, i have always experienced it as a river.

    i am now living (residence) at a river and life just flows. there are days i crawl up to the bank and roll in the mud with the best of them :devil:

    on a silly note, my location i entered for PF's thingy was long before i moved to the river. it seems what the soul shouts we do bring about.

    i really enjoyed your post. i know nothing about Zen, and maybe that is all there is to it.
  6. Dec 3, 2004 #5
    hmmm - when i was in college, i embarked on a journey into eastern philosophy and zen meditation. i half lived in an ashram, and spent many hours learning to meditate. i got quite good at it, to the point where i could literally dis-associate myself from my surroundings. it did result in a generally stressless frame of mind - the entire concept of letting go f your desires and "floating downstream" rather than fighting the current.

    however, at the same time, it also eliminated ambition and thus, goals. as i moved into deeper realms of meditation, it seemed that i was moved further and further from normal people, dreams, aspirations, accomplishments, or even a reasonable participation in living. i could get lost for hours and hhours each day in a deep meditative state. at some point, i came to a realization that i was surely put on this earth for some reason - to experience whatever living my life had to offer or teach me - and that i was pretty much just hiding my head in the sand by meditating all the time. i stopped meditating, and i stopped worrying about it. since then, i have written three books, and have taken over 4000 photographs that are in the permanent collections of the library of congress. personally, i am glad that i awoke from the entrapment that lotus blossom thinking can get a person into. we were given life to experience - not hide from.
  7. Dec 4, 2004 #6


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    in the late 80's i took meditation to the extreme. i didn't lose ambition, only my mind. in retro it was one of my best (painful/rewarding) experiences.

    i too walked away from formal meditation. my "meditation" these days consists of cranking up my whatever tunes as i watch the sunrise. sometimes it's appreciating a good whiff of whatever dead animal I'm preparing. simple.

    there was a post i read recently somewhere on this forum. the person summed up their life as hiking, hanging with friends, pursuing their interests etc., I thought that is living-participation in life. they stated they were atheist (not by my definition :devil: ), and i thought to me ...that is one (w)"holy" individual.

    congrats on your three books and fotos! it sounds like meditation was key :smile:
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