Are You Stirring or Stilling?
May everyone be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life be to the greater benefit to the happiness and freedom for all.
The essence of water and the relationship it bears with my own existence has been one of my greatest teachers. Its suchness is underappreciated throughout our vibrantly busy lifestyles as a sole mechanism that quenches our bodily thirst. But I encourage you to explore some of the more interesting facets of awareness and existence that reflecting on water can cause to arise.
Water, in this sermon, will serve to illustrate the natural stillness in regards to our unforeseen difficulties. I invite you to explore this idea with me a bit more. This does not take too much effort, just remain as naturally curious as you were when you decided to open the link to this sermon. Arrive at a place in your mind, where the problems of the world are emphasized much less, and your attention is on the words you are reading and the mental picture you are forming.
As we arise at this point together, picture with me, sitting alongside the banks of a quiet lake. The water in this lake represents the mind in which you are trying to achieve in this moment. Up on the surface, we can observe numerous processes that can stir the calmness of our waters. Let this serve to represent the external environment that coexists around us.
Reflect on this idea for a moment. What do some of the inhabitants look like that disturb the outer surface of your equanimity, your mental stillness? Are there people who play too loudly or make too big of splashes within you? Does your physical location smell of sulfur dioxide and detract people away from you?
Now think about these external aspects in your own life. Do you allow the actions of others to steal your equanimity? Are you a pleasant person to be around? These are difficult questions for me to ask you to contemplate on, let alone, for you to provide an answer to. When looking at the essence of water, we can learn about a few appropriate actions that we might take.
Let’s do an exercise together. Can you name a few things that you have direct control over? Take some time to give some thought into this.
Hopefully, if you have arrived at the same conclusion as I did, we see that we often have very little direct influence about the situations that surround us. We did not choose were we were born, our social class, or the parents that gave birth to us. We do not have the ability to slow down time or to go backwards in order to mend hurtful words. We do not have control over the weather outside, the people who work with us, or the particularly negative feelings that can arise. So what can be done?
Taking all this into consideration, we could evaporate our waters as a way to trade a brief interruption of stillness, for an action that may have little effect on the circumstances that we are dealing with, but at what sacrifice? Are we sure that the place where we do settle will not come with even more struggles?
Acceptance is one of the means of overcoming our troubled waters; and is quite often the only thing we can do in certain situations. When we accept our circumstances that doesn’t mean that we don’t have any negative feelings. It’s absurd to assume that all feelings will stop if you think about them hard enough. The end goal of life is not to repress or ignore our anger, our anxieties, or our fears in life, but to approach them as they approach us.
When an angry person comes over to me and throws a huge log in my mental pond, there is no doubt that my initial reaction will be blurred by the means of my own inability to equalize my thoughts. The true nature of reality is reflected within the surface of still water: not rippled or running water. Water captures the reflection of its surroundings and maintains that image. When people come to stir our waters, the image is still there, but it becomes distorted and often unrecognizable. In order to understand our intention, we must calm the turmoil that arises, when others try to torment us, before we can focus on what is next. We must learn to be at peace with ourselves before we can act without reaction.
Action outside of this only perpetuates the disentanglement of our ability to get along with others and only feeds into our anger, sadness, and our anxieties. When we change our attitude on a situation, we change our lives.
So I invite you to welcome adversity when it meets you in life and cherish your moments of peace. In situations outside of your means of control, don’t be afraid to make friends with your challenges and feel what you feel. The surface of your water may be disturbed, but the depths of your being exists at a deeper level. The surface is just a place where we can interact with others and explore existence outside of ourselves, in whatever form that might be. Reach out to your aggressor and treat them with compassion and understanding. Do not feed their monster with an unsettling reaction. Reflect within yourself, calm the waters of your being, and act with a purpose.
Life is an exceptional teacher, always giving us advice, and we can only listen if we practice and maintain our stillness. Stillness allows us to observe characteristics of ourselves too often overlooked in moments of our extreme movement. Don’t meet hatred with movement, meet it with serenity and a willingness to listen, and you will begin to change the way you interact with the world.
I’ll leave you with one final thought:
The secret of the receptive, must be sought in stillness. Within that stillness there remains the potential for action. –Zhou Xuanjing
Thank you for sharing in this experience with me. As we depart from each other, my words and your being, remember to actively be engaged within this present moment and cultivate a sense of compassion and stillness.
Inhale, exhale, repeat, and May the Force Be with Us All.