Be Like Water
By Vishwanthar on General
February 11, 2022
I have read many books. Reading a single book usually bores me. This has been normal for me for several years. Abiding by this rule I am currently enjoying reading five books: An Idlers Manual by Tom Hodgkinson, Letting Go: the Pathway to Surrender by David R Hawkins, Diet for a Small Planet by Francis Moore Lappe, Mycelium Running by Paul Stamets and Designing Destiny by Kamlesh Patel (I am rereading this). I finished reading An Idler’s Manual (a few weeks ago) and Diet for a Small Planet(recently). As you can make out, I don’t read a specific genre. My interests include biology, spirituality, psychology, natural farming, autobiographies, self-help books (Not the typical self-help ones, which speak about specific remedies for tackling adversity). I really don’t know what intrigues me. Moreover, I recently heard that a filmmaker, Raj B Shetty, tries to work on different genres of movies. For example, his first movie was a satirical comedy shot indoors, and the second was an out-and-out violent movie entirely shot outdoors. He states that he was new to shooting outdoors and making violent movies, but learning the nuances of the art was a great learning experience. Also, learning from the filmmaker, I believe reading different genres is fruitful and engaging.
The author of the book An Idler’s Manual, Tom Hodgkinson, speaks about various methods to idle–slow down–contemplate. In one of the articles, he speaks about being close to water. He says it’s important to stay near water as it teaches us not to strive hard in this goal-centred life. You might be reluctantly agreeing with me especially if you are in your late 30s or older. However, the younger brigade tends to be materialistic and will probably brush my opinion aside. Please note that a goal centred life need not be materialistic. On the other hand, fulfilling material dreams is not wrong. But you should also realise that life is multifaceted. Success and having goals can be looked at through different lenses. Ironically, the capitalistic mindset narrows down success to a typical path. For example, buying an expensive car or building a beautiful house is thought to be the peak of a successful person.
On a similar note, I quizzed a 25-year-old gym client for a better understanding. (I didn’t want to sound biased.) She agreed that the majority of people in her age group are goal oriented; unfortunately, their goals are materialistic. However, personally, after a few years of being employed at a bank and seeing how the corporate world worked, she really wanted to slow down. She wished to create beautiful memories that she would grow to treasure, but the hustle and bustle didn’t allow her to do so. For example, she wanted to be more humane, closer to nature and animals. Ironically, she couldn’t find humanity in her own brethren. She looked tired. I hope she comes to realise it’s okay to choose ‘the road not taken’.
Isn’t success subjective? You are the sole owner of your life, and you will have to define success according to your rules. How can you allow others to define success for you?
Reading An Idlers Manual reminded me of Bruce Lee’s famous message on water. He said, “Empty your mind. Be like water. Be formless and shapeless like water. You put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water in a bottle, it becomes a bottle. Put water into a teapot it becomes a teapot. Now,water can flow or it can crash. Be water my friend.” Similarly, I am slowly realising that life has not to be a struggle. It’s fluid and all about acceptance.
The first couple of years of learning meditation was learning to live in peace. However, my instructors had warned me that in the initial days I may also temporarily shun worldly matters. Indeed, a contradiction troubled me. Since I have a spiritual bent of mind, I secretly wished for it to triumph over my material pursuits. However, heartfulness meditation practice clearly suggests that balancing both is the ideal way. Likewise, I saw my meditation instructors embracing both the material and spiritual worlds. But I was of the idea that true spirituality meant lacking interest in the worldly. It was strangely an ego boost, as I felt superior in my endeavour. I started to look down upon my instructors. I felt they weren’t spiritually mature enough.
However, having contemplated deeper I have come to realise that any form of an ego boost isn’t conducive for spiritual development. As Socrates had said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” The meditation practice helped me arrive at an impartial vantage point, and critical thinking enabled me to re-evaluate my flawed outlook. I continued the practice and have been experiencing and enjoying a harmony between my spiritual and material pursuits, and I continue to respect my teachers. No more ego boosts! One can focus on the internal world only if the world outside is stable.
For example, I am at the gym during the week. I meditate early in the morning. Right after the meditation I take my dog for a long walk. I then head to the gym, work out and coach till 9 a m. Since I have started focusing on the blog, I write for a few hours. Some days I read books or watch Netflix. At around 5 p. m. I am back at the gym to coach till 8 in the evening. After a busy week in the city, we drive to the outskirts. My wife and I manage the farm and work on it ourselves when required. We come back on Monday.
It’s surprising that I am enjoying this so-called hectic routine. Earlier I would have ended up becoming paranoid. So many tasks would have been exhausting. I can affirm that four and a half years of meditation has taught me to be like water–not to resist or fight against the activity. It isn’t about going back and forth between the internal and the external but finding peace in both. They aren’t contradictory but complementary.