A proverb within my latest "fortune" cookie.
I took the time to meditate on this one. So simple, it's meaning rather clear, yet seldom practiced. What do I mean by practiced? How often do we really "go with the flow"? Moving forwards or backwards with truly no expectations? In our everyday actions, in our everyday lives, we get stuck - we stagnate - often out of fear and often out of focus. Fear to act in order for a goal to be reached and even more often we become so fixated on a goal, on some end result, we simply can't change gears in fear of losing sight of it. Zen Master Glassman in the book "The Dude and the Zen Master" likened this stagnation to the well known rhyme:
Row, row, row your boat,
gently down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream.
Glassman comments "Imagine that you're rowing down a stream and you're trying to figure out how to do it. Do I first row with the right oar and then with the left, or is it the other way around? What should my shoulder do...?...And while he's hung up with all those questions, the stream is pulling him on and on. So you want to row, row, row your boat - gently. Don't make a whole to-do about it." It's all too common in the modern day, with information overload, with little to no patience, that we want a skill mastered, a goal reached, or a service done in the hear-and-now without being conscious of our own self in the moment.
In order to move from point A to be B there must time, consideration, and patience. The same can be said in conducting business, practicing martial arts, and looking after your health. You want to go from 0 to 10 without understanding the process? Pop a pill and you're done? It's not possible. In fact, anything or anyone telling you otherwise is a facade, a mirage.
"One day, Zhuangzi lectured Huizi hour upon hour about the Dao. Huizi stood up and yelled "Trivial! Inconsequential! Everything you've said is completely useless!
Zhuangzi said "Good, now that you understand uselessness, we can talk about usefulness. For instance, you're really only using this little piece of ground you're standing on, right? But if we cut away the rest of the ground around it...how useful is it?" Zhuang continued... "Therefore: usefulness is built on a foundation of uselessness. If there is no uselessness, then there is no usefulness.""
This is the nature of what is substantial and insubstantial, real or false, yin or yang. In the end one cannot exist without the other. This is process, this is practice, this is how, as Glassman might add, we get to "the other shore". The other shore may be our goal, it may be our happiness, it can be whatever it is we want to change in our lives, our world. Without practice, patience, and consciousness, there can be no wind to create a wave. And if we expect that wind to create the right wave, the right movement and the right direction then in itself this expectation may never be met and we will begin to stagnate once again as we tried to fight what is naturally occurring.