Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Be Water

Don’t push the river. It flows by itself.  ~Fritz Perls
Water’s wisdom is its ability to respond effortlessly and appropriately to any situation. It flows around obstacles. It yields to an intrusion (think about trying to push water). It flows downhill in harmony with gravity. It takes the shape of whatever contains it. When there is nowhere to go, it rests in tranquility. It transforms in response to heat or cold. It fills the lowest places, yet nothing is more powerful. It nourishes all life without judgment or striving.
And it returns. It returns to the sea. The Chinese character for sea or ocean is which breaks down into “water mother.” The Tao Te Ching describes the Tao using many characters and references which relate to water. It compares the Tao’s presence in the world to streams flowing through valleys into rivers and on to the sea.
Water is the original practitioner of the way of no way!
We are made mostly of water (with a sprinkling of stardust), and so it is our nature to move through our lives effortlessly, and ultimately to return to our source. We don’t need to “do” anything. Our efforts and struggles slow us down (think about swimming upstream), but will not keep us from our destiny. Like water, we need only “allow.”
As we go through our day today, let us listen to water’s wisdom, for indeed it is our own.
Be water, my friend.  ~Bruce Lee

16 thoughts on “Be Water”

  1. So pleased to have an invitation to become a part of the extended group of the No Way Cafe. It is great to have you back on line on a regular basis! Any suggestions for favorite editions/translations of the Tao Te Ching–the timing is perfect for me to do a little exploration into the way of no way.

  2. Hi Galen! I'm so glad you're back! It's great to see you again.

    I hope you'll talk more about the concept of not needing to "do" anything, because I have trouble understanding what that means on a practical level, or how to apply it to my life. Love to hear more about it! 🙂

  3. Thanks! Great to see you, too. I would love to talk more about the concept of not needing to "do" anything. It is a topic central to the way of no way and so will come up often. I can understand how this idea is hard to imagine in practical application, but it can become a guiding principle in our everyday lives. Briefly, it doesn't mean sitting around on the couch all day letting the bills pile up and the kids go hungry! Stay tuned for the next post. I look forward to continuing this conversation with you.

  4. Hi, Polly! I'm so delighted to see you here. There are so many translations of the Tao Te Ching. It is the second most translated book ever, with the Bible being the first. The translations vary greatly because of the cryptic, poetic nature of the original Chinese. The best way to choose one is to look at several translations at a bookstore and see which one you are drawn to.

    The one I have loved for decades is by Gia-Fu Feng and Jane English. But there are things I love in others, too. Whichever one you choose, when you are reading a chapter you can go online for some alternate translations which will give you a broader perspective.

    No matter which one you choose, I think you will find a lot of wisdom to contemplate!

  5. Reminds me of something spoken by a pastor I was listening to the other night about God's forgiveness and not trying so hard to deserve it. Excellent to have my favorite philosopher back!

  6. As usual at this time of year I give a lot of thought to what I want to do differently this year, so that it doesn't just pass by in a blur, producing guilt because I have not accomplished more.. never feeling good enough. So glad you are back. I need your inspiring words.

  7. I am ‘retired’ now and have to be careful when it comes to doing nothing, as there are several definitions to this as you will most likely point out. I find myself using the term ‘not forcing’ in my own case. The year 2015 was a real bummer for me and now I am trying to rebuild up my life…my inner spirit once more. My body and mind received a hard blow.

    Moving like water fits perfectly in how I need to approach my return to an active life. Keep moving, not forcing…but still being persistent as I move forward in life. Gliding around difficulties, but not ignoring them. Enough…ready to join this journey with you. It is amazing how you returned just as I needed you once more.

  8. Thanks for the sweet words, CW. Your comment reminds me of the Bible verse about how God makes the rain to fall and the sun to shine on the just and the unjust. It also reminds me of something Thich Nhat Hanh said about how a flower shares its beauty with all who walk by without regard to whether they deserve it.

  9. Hello, Barbara. You are so right. There are many ways to think about not doing. I like your characterization as not forcing. The comment above by Painted Universe brings up this question as well. I'm working on a post to expand this conversation. I'm glad you are a part of it.

    I'm so sorry that 2015 was such a difficult year for you. It sounds to me like you are approaching your return to active life with great wisdom and compassion for yourself. I'm pleased to share the journey with you.

  10. Hi, Judy. Your comment touched my heart. We have such a pervasive sense in American culture of never doing enough or being good enough. There is always more to do and always room for improvement. We have set up a system that will always leave us falling short. It's like running a race where the finish line is always a few steps away. No matter how fast we run or how far, we will never reach it.

    As we begin this year, can we pause long enough to catch our breath and look around? Perhaps there is another way to experience our lives. I promise you there is. I'm so glad that you are here.

  11. That's a very high level of understanding! The teachings I've studied identify 4 levels of effort, ending with the effortlessness you speak of. Do you think any effort is every required to flow in the no way?

  12. Hi, Sandra! Now I'm curious–what are the other 3 levels?

    The question you raise about whether effort is ever required is one I think about often. For example, in practicing martial arts, it seems to me that I make a LOT of effort to be effortless! I go to class, I train, I study. Sweat looks like effort, doesn't it?! It certainly feels like it!

    I think perhaps effortlessness in the sense we are using it means something else. Perhaps it means being in harmony with a situation, without forcing, without the ego identification which interferes with our perception of and union with the present moment.

    Back to martial arts, at my age, I can tell you that my ego has been pretty much obliterated! And I train in harmony with my body, listening to and respecting what my body can and can’t do at this age. I practice martial arts because I love it, because it is the physical manifestation of my spiritual being, not to achieve some particular outcome or standard of performance. And in that sense it seems effortless to me. Does that make any sense?

    I believe that "right effort" is part of the Noble Eightfold Path of Buddhism. You are my Buddhist expert–am I correct? What does that mean to you?

    Thank you for a thought provoking comment! You’ve really got me thinking here. I hope to continue the conversation here and in future posts!

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