Saturday, March 9, 2013

What does it mean to be "still in the stream?"

Shortly after the publication of my first book on wabi sabi I created a website called and have maintained the site ever since. The focus over there is news about my books and supplementary material on related topics, especially tea and haiku.

Then I started my 100 lakes project which was a way to more deeply explore sabi through a practice known as Kanjaku. The 100 lakes blog has largely been a series of travelogs with the occasional post of my philosophical musings.

Canoe on Anutz Lake, near a stream inflow
Along the way I have launched new blogs to try and chronicle some of the inner journey I have been on, but as is often the case for me, and those with similar personalities to mine, I don't seem to make much progress after the initial inspiration.

But this is what it means, in part, to be still in the stream. Still, in this sense, equates to "continuing to exist, or persist" in the stream. Mid stream really.

"Nothing is perfect, nothing lasts, nothing is finished."

And the nothing being finished part, like the rest, is not a bad thing. We want perfect lasting completion. We want to be able to relax out of striving, seeking, and working into accomplishment, answers, and rest. For me, those qualities are not bad, but the exploration of wabi sabi had confirmed for me that goals promise satisfaction and contentment one day, and as attractive as this sounds, it is an illusion. Because satisfaction and contentment are as transitory as all other feelings in life.

So, being still in the stream is being ankle or knee or even waist deep in the flow -- in the process.

But there is another kind of stillness that is not persisiting-in-the-moment-ness but more along the line of persisting-in-the-momentlessness.

This is the stillness which we think of as being without movement. The stillness of a meditator, of a person in reverie, and of objects that reside in one place for a long time.

It is the air that seems not to move in a forest glade, the water that seems not to move on a calm pond. We love the look and feel and experience of this kind of stillness. And most of us know it is a relative thing. Even when the mist is rising off a glassy lake, and the reeds and rushes stand like sentinels, we know that the mist is swirling is very small movements of air, and rings appear on the water from fish moving below the surface.

Stillness of this kind is really a reduction of motion, a quieting of frenetic activity which seems somehow to hush our mind, to create a mindful state in which we can let go some of the burden we seem to be carrying.

Stillness, really is a pause in activity, a reduction of activity, like the widening of a river that we call a lake. Lakes are still points in the flow of water from mountain to sea. They represent a kind of stillness we seek for ourselves. Not a perfect stillness, but a relative one in which we might, "possess our soul." This is the purpouse of being "still in the stream."

1 comment:

  1. It's good to know someone else who speaks and walks Wabi-Sabi...