Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Focus on the Water

Let your eye rest on the water.  Look deeply at the ripples.  See what comes....

It's a gift from stratofrog.  And it goosetails, for me, with an experience from long ago.  When I stood in the Ganges with Gandhi.  Well, not really.  But it was as Real as anything could be - when I experienced it.  I learned much wisdom.  In a very short span.  It occurred at a monastery over 30 years ago.   It was a great blessing.  And this photo, more than anything, provides the entry into that experience.

The monks had invited friends to join them at a workshop.   I knew them all, except for the presenter.  Part of the workshop involved making a list of spiritual stepping stones and wisdom people.  Then we chose one wisdom person with whom to have a conversation - an inner journey down a spiritual well to a place of meeting.  I closed my eyes, allowed myself to go down the inner well - mine was round, with stones all the way down, mossy in places, damp, cool, pleasant.  Immediately I found myself in the Ganges.  I now write my exact words of that experience, speaking to Gandhi:
I don't know quite how to begin.  I will fold my hands and bow to you - Gandiji....  It's very peaceful here - even though we are surrounded by others purifying themselves - washing together in the water.  I am so aware of the multitudes in this river. .. And yet we are peacefully alone too.  I have time to talk to you and you are gracious enough to share this time with me.  Pardon me, if I say one thing more about our surroundings.  I see now that is it so appropriate to put the bodies of the dead into the river along with the rest of us who bathe here.  But I realize as I say this too that you are supposed to be dead and I am supposed to be alive.  Yet we are here bathing together.  Somehow - in a way I cannot understand - everyone is in this river. 
Yes, my daughter.  You yourself have said so.
 ................. long pause..............
Why is it that I am unable to speak more to you?
Silence together, my daughter.
I didn't know I could go down and find silence together.
On earth, I fasted and kept silence one day a week.  Here we can do so always.... But we can share as often as you like.
Yes, I see that now.  We're all here together.  I'm so glad to be home.  My tears become part of this river too.  Drops of water which reflect.  But I can only see the reflections when they've fallen.  ~ But then they're gone ~ part of the river now.
 Just so, my daughter.
You say so little, Gandhi.  You have the gift of listening.  Do you think I will ever have it too.
"In the stillness is the dancing"
(Like a soft echo in my mind, for a while now.)
You yourself have said it.  Follow my example.

Summary (afterward) - to myself:
I am afraid I may have missed my opportunity.  I had so much I wanted to say - like before you make a long distance call - but when you finally hear the voice - that's all you wanted to hear - just the voice, the comforting feeling of hearing the voice and remaining in its presence.

"In the stillness is the dancing"  ~  An allusion to a line from TS Eliot's Four Quartets:

"So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing." 

Now here's the thing.  Although I own a book, whose title rang in my mind, I knew the experience really referenced Eliot's words.  (I had purchased the book - for its title, you see.)  But there's moreWhen I searched, just now, for a link to it, I found another book with almost the same title - a biography I didn't know existed.   So, why, you might ask, have I just linked to a biography I have never read?  Because it concerns a man I was yet to meet - at the same monastery - a man whose impact on me (and others) relates to the title of this blog.  A blog yet to be born.  A man yet to die.   A book yet to be written.  A profession I was yet to train for - which had never even entered my mind.   And yet... all that meaning was contained in my experience.  That.  And more, of course.

As TS Eliot writes: 
Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
This blog, like life, is a journey. We are on it together....


Forestroot said...

I am in despair much of the time. A wasted six decades.

The only thing I feel I ever sought was survival, for me and mine.

I certainly have been challenged. I recall only defeats.

I am stuck feeling that I am what I am and that is all that I am.

TheraP said...

"A wasted six decades" sounds like TS Eliot here:

"So here I am, in the middle way, having had twenty years-
Twenty years largely wasted, the years of l'entre deux guerres-
Trying to use words, and every attempt
Is a wholy new start, and a different kind of failure..."

As we both know, everyone loves you. But you have shared a deep secret. In the sacred space here.

How can I help you?

stratofrog said...

The patterns in the water are what I ponder. And how life is full of beauty and movement like that. Repetition, recurrence, echoes. Everything is all the same at that place.

Opportunities can duplicate too. It may be the golden goose but it could just be turning away – you never know. The random choice ends up being the golden egg.

When I took that picture I was looking at the goose and didn’t even recognize the water was the source. When I put it in my computer and opened the photo I was totally blown away. What’s in the background sometimes means more than what I think I’m appreciating in the moment.

Anyway, it’s the ebb and flow of things that make it all very interesting, joyful or depressing, and to find the elusive rhythm of it all captured in time makes me think how many astounding things I overlook but might return to find. With a little help from my friends.

TheraP said...

I love that photo! I love those patterns. I've never seen such patterns in water. And the color, the shades of color. I ponder the water too. But somehow it took me back. To sacred waters. Maybe it was the way the ripples go, as if raindrops or teardrops had fallen. If you ever find a way to get the photo to be "just water" - that would be lovely too. But for me, it fit because of using the word "goosetails" instead of dovetails.

Yes, the water is astonishing!

stratofrog said...

I loved the "goosetails" moment. I have never seen such patterns either before. It is magic the way water brings memories and yours are so poignant. The reflective part of us really needs this place. We all ripple outward from here.

TheraP said...

I have other such memories.... We'll see when the time ripens for them to appear.

Yes, places like this are all too scarce in our society. It's a wonder, even for me!

matyra said...

I spent much of last week in the Chama River in northern New Mexico. "In" is correct; I was helping a river geologist take different measurements of depth, sediment, etc. Red and tan and gray cliffs above. Cottonwoods. Willows. Beaver slides along the rippling river. This is the country that Georgia O'Keeffe painted.

The best moment was me on the bank and a muskrat swam right for me, a leafed branch in its mouth, a wake in the water. It disappeared into the bank below and slowly the V in the water faded away.

I don't know of a culture that doesn't think that water is special. Tolkein wrote that it carries the sound of the music of creation. It moves and seems alive. It allows life. Taoists emulate it. Astronomers think that it is ubiquitous. But there's nothing like sitting outside listening to the sound that water makes.

TheraP said...

"the sound of the music of creation"

Thank you for that!

The descriptions of nature in Lord of the Rings shimmer with beauty.

Your quote also reminds me of CS Lewis and the Chronicles of Narnia - where Aslan sings the new world into being. (Now you've given me another image of creation.)

They were friends, you know. Tolkien and CS Lewis. They were both professors. How wonderful the legacy of that friendship! I cannot help but think their works were partly stimulated by their mutual ability to "play" with words and images and characters. To build whole worlds.

Namaste, matyra.

I loved your image of the muskrat and the V that slowly disappeared in the water. Beautiful images!

Forestroot said...

It is absolutely beautiful today. Not a cloud in the sky. 64 degrees with a light wind. We will get to 75 today.

Eliot's line must be from whence the line 'days of future past'. Moody Blues.

TheraP said...

Blue Sky. And Moody Blues. Meditations on Weather and Time - and Paradox.