Verse 8 "The Way of Water"
The Way is like water that flows downward to lower places.
It nourishes and restores and from there life springs.
This is where we learn harmony and contentment.
So live with the nature of things.
Be still and go deep within.
Live with truthfulness and equality.
Govern with justice and timely order.
Contentment and peace will be yours.
Now that we have an understanding of how we attain a home in the universe and how we achieve this through the act of giving and finding all people and everything in this world as neutral, we are now shown an example of how this should look and be. The first line of this verse points us in a direction of how to experience life through the example of water. If you look at the characteristics of water you will see that is finds its own place. Not by rushing up and down or left and right, but by just allowing and finding the low place to settle. Interestingly, it is also from this lower place that we find the greatest diversity in life. If we were to use this analogy for where and how we grow, we could say, ‘it’s where we learn and discover about life’.
Without knowing where all life originated and the science behind life as we know it, Lao-Tzu hit the nail on the head that life is like water. In the beginning of time our Earth created life in the swampy pools with the coming together of amino acids, carbon and with the help of the hydrogen and oxygen in water. With some heat from our sun life sprung from these swampy beginnings to how we see it today. It’s everywhere and life needs this amazing substance to survive. It didn't happen on the top of a mountain, or at the depths of the oceans but rather where water settles, in calm and neutral places. If we start to acknowledge the importance of water and what a huge role it plays, we get a glimpse into how we are to experience this in our day to day living.
Water has its own way. It doesn't have an intention or a want. In nourishes and feeds our world and it doesn't ask for anything in return. It doesn't set goals, such as climbing mountains or traversing valleys. It just flows down and allows itself to find that lower place to provide sustenance for all. Sure, as it moves it provides, but it will eventually settle, where the sun will evaporate it back into the sky then raining on the mountain to start the whole cycle again.
If we compare our passage through life like water we will get a better understanding of how we need to see life as it flows. Sometimes it’s fast and furious while other times its slow and meandering. Everyone has this same stream of life that moves within them, and everyone is experiencing it at differing pace. This is important thing to remember. Everyone is different, with a different pace and view of their purpose in life. It is key to remember when dealing with others, especially when we don't see eye to eye. Water treats everyone equally, so do not place yourself above others, particularly people less fortunate or without the same means as yourself.
I like to make the analogy that water is an equalizer. It’s natural to flow and then settle just as water behaves. As we move through life it is too often the case that we get caught up in all manner of work and action, that can become unhealthy if we’re not careful. We push and shove and create a busyness that can overwhelm and dominate our every thought and action. In this verse we are asked to allow rather than react, slow down, and be still. When work finds a natural end point it’s time to stop and reflect, as water reflects the sunset at the end of the day.
What the world has been going through these last few months with the pandemic has caused many of us to take time out to reflect on the fragility of our lifestyle. I saw my entire business completely shut down with very little hope of getting it up and running again before next year. It felt like a natural full stop in my work life, time to stop and reflect on things that are important to me, then consider a new direction and reinvent my life. I'm sure many others have also used this time to do the same. We must stop and start to re-imagine what is possible and how can we help others who are struggling at this time.
We must learn from water and let our thoughts flow freely especially during quiet pauses. Let it be a time to use your imagination to create, as water does in those lower places. That lower place could be just a quiet time of stillness, or a time of rebuilding oneself, for regrowth and recreation.
Remember, in the end it’s all about finding that inner happiness and joy and helping others do the same. We just need to be truthful and treat everyone equally. Imagine a world that used this concept as its guiding principle. If we could find this way to always responding to one another with unconditional love (as water does), we would be fulfilling that great commandment to : 'Love one another as I have loved you', then…contentment and peace will be for everyone to enjoy.
Thank You for Verse 8
1: Thank you for the precious water that nourishes our world.
2: Thank You for the example of water to show us how to be still, to reflect, and to re-imagine our lives.
3: Thank You for the way of water as an equalizer showing us how through selfless giving, we can find contentment and peace.
(C) Copyright 2022 Written by Mark Wattis. All Rights Reserved. No duplication without permission.