Recently, I completed my second 40 day fast, it was an experience that I needed. I believe it is because of that I had been thinking about the significance of water, its properties, and what it means to “be water.” Water is essential to life, period. If it is contaminated you can’t live for long. Science tells us that 50%-65% of our body is water, so I guess in some ways we are water. The nerd in me found out that the US Geological Survey states, “About 71 percent of the Earth’s surface is water-covered, and the oceans hold about 96.5 percent of all Earth’s water. But water also exists in the air as water vapor, in rivers and lakes, in icecaps and glaciers, in the ground as soil moisture and in aquifers.” There’s something to this water thing, it’s everywhere. Yesterday, 2.0 (what I call my son) and I went to our monthly meeting, the discussion was on the concept of “Faith Like Flowing Water”. Part of the reading is as follows:
“Practicing Buddhism involves making the strongest resolution- a vow to lead a life of perpetual self-improvement and commitment to the happiness of others. But, Nichiren Daishonin was well aware of the tendency, even among the most enthusiastic practitioners of his teaching, to easily abandon that vow.”
And so, in “The Two Kinds of Faith” the following is written:
“The belief of some is like fire while that of others is like water. When the former listen to the teachings, their passion flares up like fire, but as time goes on, they tend to discard their faith. To have faith like water means to believe continuously without ever regressing.”
It resonates with me as I look at the paths I have taken over my life and considering the path that water takes. In many situations I think I’ve built to being water. In 2008 when the financial downturn happened and my homes were foreclosed on (yes, homes), I moved in with family – BEING WATER. In 2010, when we moved back to Ohio having sold almost everything, taking only a U-Haul, and less than $1000 in the bank with no car – BEING WATER. In 2010, when I applied for graduate school and was accepted – BEING WATER. Eighteen months later, selling or giving away everything to move to Texas (on a plane with 4 bags) on faith – BEING WATER. When I was without a car for 6 months and pedaling my bike to get groceries – BEING WATER. And, now we’re in a city we love, I’ve graduated with a Master’s degree, am taking on new challenges, and looking at things flourishing. For me the concept of “faith like flowing water” has been symbolized in the reflections of situations in my life when I didn’t give up, and I very well could have and actually considered doing so. It is when I didn’t give up when I believe “being water” was most evident, and are my greatest teachable moments. I have learned that I can be the greatest obstacle to my happiness, accomplishments, and can be an example of unshakable faith and confidence because of the things I might think or say.
In the book Tao Te Ching by Lao-Tzu it reads, “Nothing in the world is as soft and yielding as water, yet nothing can better overcome the hard and strong.” Water continues to flow and makes a path, scientific consensus is that 5 million to 6 million years ago the Colorado River carved the Grand Canyon. Flowing water is movement. Flowing water transforms the hardest objects, and carves paths where there previously was no path. It is in being flowing water that I can adapt to the obstacles presented. Continuing to flow while facing an obstacle you can wear them away. Moving in a forward direction is evidence of having faith like flowing water. No matter what your faith or level of confidence, people seldom stop practicing their faith, taking steps to achievement, or acting on their vision because it doesn’t work. It is because of the obstacles that present themselves along the path and a lack of the ability to adjust or strength to surmount them. Because of this, they pursue something else under the idea that it will now be the right thing. Sometimes, and I’m guilty of this too, you end up doing nothing. At no point does water stop and say, “I can’t go there,” it simply finds a way somehow, then, keeps going. No matter where it is placed it takes the form of the environment to survive. Even when it is boiled it evaporates, but it simply has changed form in accordance with the elements to which it has been exposed. It always exists in some form never giving up and never stopping, always continuing on it’s journey no matter what obstacles are placed in it’s way – it’s steady regardless of circumstances.
That is how I desire for my faith, confidence, and life to be no matter what things seem to be present. I want to always be moving forward and growing and improving, able to adapt to the circumstance or situation without regressing, remaining focused on my vision and goal, creating a path, being appreciative at all times, exuding happiness and love regardless, encouraging others without regard for circumstances, be refreshing and invigorating to others, and most of all an example of how to BE WATER.