Whenever I stand near a waterfall I feel moved. No other natural form of flowing water stirs me more. Imagine the dance and play of the water as it cascades over stones. Picture the light flickering and twinkling like the winking of Spirit in dangers that would crush you and me, made as we are of human bodies in flesh, bone and sinew. While we mortals twist and turn daily to avoid injury, both psychic and physical, the water moves freely meeting any obstacle; water is ultimate fluidity.
‘Fluidity’ often denotes freedom. A person who is capable of demonstrating fluidity is the opposite of a ‘rigid’ person. A rigid person must have things ‘just so’ whereas the fluid person is uninjured by circumstance, bending and yielding as necessary. The virtuosic fluid person moves within and through circumstance without surrendering his or her values.
When observing the waterfall you will notice a paradox. The water, infinitely yielding, carves stone-that ancient and utterly hard substance, the bones of this earth. Water caresses stone with whisper touches, or crashes against stone with utter abandon. Water carves its mark through the aeons while stone guides the dance of the water. Causing the water to shift, fall back, dash again-apparently without care or resentment-the water’s path is determined by the hard substance it plays against.
Which shapes which? In one way, it is clearly the stone that shapes the path of the water. The water, while marvelous in its play is forced to move ever downward to the lowest point. It gathers momentum or rests in pools depending on the forces that work on it.
Yet stone is shaped by water, isn’t it? Notice the textures of the stone, the basins that have been carved by whirlpools and the gathering of like with like to create a pebbled stream bed. With another paradox, it is the water that moves rapidly but does its work over very long arcs of time. The stone; solid, cold and unmoving has an instantaneous effect.
What does this play of hard and soft, liquid and solid, movement and stillness teach us? The movement and stillness can be reversed by perception. Stand back from the waterfall and notice the repetition of the patterns. Yes, it moves rapidly, but from a distance a painter could paint the same mounds of water, the same mass of bubbles, the same quiet pools. From that distance, all is still.
Turn now to your own life. From a distance, isn’t all still? Don’t your doings and actions repeat endlessly, seemingly infinite from the inside while imbued with drama, but when viewed from the outside an unmoving picture?
Think of time. Do you feel that you are in time as if time were some substance or thing that you must work your way through? Or are you the stationary one, the one who does not move while the world passes by around you-your being divides the flow, but you cannot jump in for fear that you will be swept away, ever down and down to some crashing end?
Are you what moves or are you what is still? If you are still, what is the nature of your stillness? Is it repetition? Is it resistance? Do you take the same posture again and again like the figure on a Greek vase chasing his foe on the other side of the same vase? Does this posture give you the sense of movement because your gaze is pinned determinedly on your foe fleeing just ahead of you? If you were to step back, just a little, or turn around quickly, what would you see? Could you see the play of forms, endlessly the same yet suffused with the dynamism from within, informed by the dream? What is inside and what is outside here? What is movement? What stillness?
Silent, for just a moment, you contemplate your seeming action which is really inaction. These daily actions and reactions are as still as night when viewed, like the waterfall, from afar.
Now turn your attention away from the drama that usually grips you. Stepping back with the mind’s eye, can you notice the steps of your own dance in slow motion? Visualizing these dance steps, can you notice yourself twist this way and that as you try each day, each moment really, to experience freedom? Are you not are greeted by a hundred impediments, coming from both within and without? Some of these impediments are understood by you, some are not. Some, less known to you, contribute to the dull dissatisfaction of your day.
Who notices this play? What is this other Stillness that moves you like a sharp gasp of recognition? With your indrawn breath you become quiet. You exhale softly, carefully wanting to notice everything about your perception, a perception whose origin you cannot fathom yet know to be your home. Silent, you inhale slowly to let the mystery infuse your being. You feel respectful, soft, calm. There is a fresh energy moving up your body. You also feel a wide, expansive horizontal reach. You are centered in the mystery (but suddenly it is not right to say in.) You are the mystery of Stillness and movement, form and formlessness. Exhale. Your breath becomes a circle. The circle is infinitely large yet somehow experienced by you.
What is the you? Is there any other you aside from the dream that you are always held to be reality. If you are the one who dreams, who is the one who is dreamed? Inhale. Your alignment shifts. You feel gentle, receptive and kind. Nothing can rouse you to anger or despair because those are features dreaming, while you are the Dreamer.
Exhale. The water crashes over stone in both stillness and movement. Stone is solid and yet moved by the softest of pressures slowly through vast expanses of time. The stillness and movement are the same. The moment and the arc of time are one. The dreamer dreams that he is the dreamed.