Every culture, group and even individual is on a course, a path and way of moving and living that is being utilized (intentionally or unintentionally) to arrive at what is perceived by each as the desired destination. For instance, the United States, a nation to which I belong in some sense and that I love in spite of her flaws, moves forward with a sort of bulldozer mentality and a Bulldog determination. This way of leveling every obstacle in one’s path is indeed a path, albeit one rooted in a sort of violence and greedy hunger. It is the way of a market economy, a colonization mentality, and a fame based, instant gratification global social scene. There is a deeply ingrained sense in our current culture of needing to be rich, be known, and be “someone”. I've often struggled with this all-too-powerful pull on my life and I continue to contend with its currents and influence; I wrestle with the desire to be appreciated, loved and understood (as do most, I think) and strive to rest in the knowledge that I Am Love and to remember continually that whether or not I'm understood or appreciated has no bearing on my inherent worthiness or goodness. I'm writing today for and to those who are like me; who in their heart of hearts despise the pressures toward conformity that seem to be crushing from every direction. I'm writing because there is a way of flowing and being that is rooted in peace, not competition, in love, not vain or personal glory. There is a “Watercourse Way" (I believe this term may have been coined by Alan Watts. If that credit is incorrect I beg your pardon); a way of moving, flowing, blessing, and living rooted in connectedness, sensitivity, and a gentle responsiveness of heart and spirit. I am admittedly no expert in this mode of being and in reality I didn't choose to live this way. This way is me and my life has become this way… I simply write because I know that others are of this same Spirit and Path and if any personal discovery I've made on the journey is of any use to another it is my greatest joy to share. As my teacher, Jesus, once said, “Freely give as you have freely received.”
Water moves and exists in specific forms and patterns. It has been said that water travels along the path of least resistance. This may be true, but one must not confuse this tendency with laziness or complacency. Water, chooses the path it does because of an adherence to its essential nature; it must flow. It's with great sensitivity that water courses, escapes, nourishes, and carves out new paths. A person who lives the watercourse way does so with a Spirit sensitive to the gentle tug of Life leading it forward. Water, unlike the aforementioned Bulldog, has life in itself, is Life itself, and has no need to consume the life of another to continue on its way. Water participates with all that surrounds it, allows itself to be drunk of by others, by any who are thirsty, and flows cooperatively and in relationship with its surroundings.
Living the watercourse way applies to all aspects of our existence and on every scale; from moment-to-moment interactions all the way to the most grand patterns and seasons of life. It’s a way of living life in a participatory manner, as opposed to exerting or imposing our ideas and will upon others. When I run in the morning, my visual field is filled with strands of blue energy which I see connecting all things, indeed weaving all things together into one wonderful, cohesive “reality”. I see millions upon millions of these blue, spider web-like tendrils, so intertwined that there is nothing separating one life (whether plant, animal, rock, human, air molecules, etc.) from another. This is the ocean of life I run in, move and flow in. When we realize our connectedness to all else we are filled with a sense of joy that causes us to flow with the rest of creation in an organic, unified way. This is an example of moment-to-moment watercourse existence. (I apologize if this description was too mystical for some of you reading but it is my daily experience, it is true, and for experiencing the world as I do, I am unapologetic).
On a larger scale the watercourse way of living could be described as following your heart, passions, or tug of the Divine within you. In different seasons of life we are led into different ways of being, thinking, different roles and activities, endeavors, etc. To live according to the watercourse way is to allow yourself to move between these seasons with fluidity. To not cling to the past season or fight the Current of Life in order to remain in established or societal norms. It also means not attempting to manipulate or determine our own future. We remain in the present. We go where we are drawn. It can feel like following a path of least resistance because when we follow the nudge of the Spirit within us there is peace and rest that accompanies us on the journey, but we must not be naïve; the watercourse way will often be difficult and as rivers flow gently in some stretches and rage violently in others, so our life will not be easier or without trials simply because we have decided to “go with the flow”. On the large, lifetime scale, the watercourse way means recognizing that seasons change, dreams change, and that it’s okay to allow ourselves to be carried into new and unknown places of life and being.
I have come to love this way of living and interpreting or experiencing life because it is utterly full of adventure. Some may view this way of being as unstable or unpredictable and they would of course be right, but it is exactly this unpredictability which, in my opinion, allows greater potential for joy. We enjoy movies with twists and surprise endings because of the exhilaration that accompanies not knowing. If we learn the ending to a movie before we have watched it we say that it has been spoiled. Many of us are trying too hard to make the movie of our life “stable” or predictable… the question is really, “What kind of movie do you want to live?”
The watercourse way is not for everyone. Trying to cultivate stability in our lives or future is not wrong but if you happen to be one of those persons who feel a call out from the norm and are willing to accept the risks of this adventure, the watercourse way invites you to do so with grace, freedom, and peace. See the connectedness of all that is and realize that you are nestled safely within the Life that surrounds you. Participate gently and with great joy. You can allow yourself to be carried along the path that is Life instead of fighting tirelessly to create your own way. This is the watercourse way as far as I can tell. You and I are small streams, but allowed to flow freely and eventually come together, we form a sea of beauty, life and diversity that is peace, freedom and joy everlasting.