Source: Flow Like Water

“He who lives the Tao acts in his life and dealings as water acts in nature. Water does not resist, yet it conquers all; it is tasteless — suggesting the invisibility of the Tao — yet life-giving. It moves through all that lives and in movement remains clear and pure. It is supple, flexible, and humble; it does not compete” ~Taoism

It was once thought that all life on earth needed 3 things: light, warmth and water, but today scientists have found living organisms deep within caves that never receive light and even bacteria buried deep in the sub-zero ice caps of Antarctica. Life doesn’t need light or warmth but one thing is now known to be essential: water.

Water cannot be contained. Sooner or later it escapes and travels on a journey of its own inclination. A river flows, not in a fixed route, rather it follows the contour of the land and, if the landscape changes, the river changes course. The river follows the easiest route, the path of least resistance. Its course may change many times, it may even reach an impasse and form a lake, but eventually it finds its journey’s end: the sea. Even man-made waterways, such as canals, don’t contain or control water. Glass contains water but cannot keep it. If you ever look at a truly old piece of glass you can see that it has lost its smoothness: you can observe that the surface has what appears to be ripples, like ripples on a pond. The ripples always follow one direction: downward, towards gravity. A pane of glass will actually form a droplet of glass that eventually drips; it just takes a couple of thousand years to do so.

Along the way our journey will take many turns. We encounter what seem to be insurmountable obstacles that loom like mountains, but like water we find the valley or canyon to flow around the obstacles. At times the river will disappear, deep underground. We may lose sight of it, perhaps for a long time. But, it must resurface eventually, as all rivers do before they reach journey’s end.

Our journey will not always be a smooth one. We encounter rapids and you may even have to take enormous leaps of faith before tumbling down to where we want to be: but like a waterfall, when we reach the next step along the journey our power and energy will be many fold. We will also experience many stagnant pools along that path where the flow of the river is almost imperceptible. But the flow of the river does and it will again flow freely and cleanly.

The journey will be a rewarding one. Our spring, that tiny step toward self-fulfilment, will turn into a river, perhaps even a great, mighty and wide one. And we won’t be alone. A river is not a single entity; rather it is formed by a meeting of many springs: a meeting of minds. Our journey’s end will be a confluence of water.

Don’t try to constrain your river of self-development. Don’t build canals to take the river where you think it should go, or aqueducts to take us over obstacles. Let the river of your journey find its own route. Can the greatest man-made canal ever compare to any river. A river moves, changes, adapts and grows bigger. The water in a canal moves slowly, the course it follows never changes, and it never will grow bigger or wider.

A river follows the path of least resistance. This isn’t laziness: it is just expending energy where it is really needed. Our journey must explore every field, valley and wood. Don’t expend energy on getting to your destination; spend our energy on exploring the world around you. All rivers eventually flow out to the sea. They all reach journey’s end and we will too.

“How could drops of water know themselves to be a river? Yet the river flows on. “~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

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