Waves, Troughs, and Flat Water a Spiritual Observation


Photo by Lea Fenton,  Australia

     Water is fascinating. Something we take for granted or think about only when we want to stay hydrated. Or, perhaps looking for a day of fun at the pool or beach. For those of us who love cold weather snow can be one of the greatest experiences ever. We use water a lot for cleaning ourselves and objects we own. And, a lot of sports are built around water. Water, fresh water, is going to be a precious thing in the future. We use it in so many ways. 

And, water sustains life as we know it. 

And, it is used a lot in spiritual talks as an example. 

     I had this conversation with a friend who is really depressed and suffering. She was talking about how Buddhism offers the ending of suffering and she felt if she could only “Get It” she would end her suffering. 

     I told her I hadn’t “Gotten it” yet either and  had no intention of getting anything. My suggestion is that Buddhism isn’t about ending anything. The first three “Noble Truths” hinge on the nature of transience. We can’t end something that is transient. The suffering of right now can be diminished or ended but, it’s going to rise again in some other form. The opposite works for being happy. We can’t be happy all the time. It’s going to rise and fall. That’s the nature of life and it’s what Gautama Buddha kept pointing out again and again. 

     The Eight fold path isn’t some master plan to end anything permanently. It’s not a self improvement plan that comes in steps. It’s a plan to attain balance in the moment and if used in awareness, we can maintain balance over and over again. So, instead of wanting to fix or change things permanently we apply the Eight Fold path to whatever we happen to be experiencing right now in this very moment. 

     Our strength, as humans, lies in the fact that despite how conditioned we are, despite how stuck we are in reactive nature, we also have that unique ability to come back to those things that enable us to feel whole and act in response. We don’t work our spiritual path to attain permanence, we work it to return to the  path we want to be on. We wander then return. Would it be great to get on the path and stay on it? No. That would mean you transported yourself to some other universe where perfection is possible and transience doesn’t exist. When we start to dissolve expectations we are super fine right where we happen to be. 

     The universe is like the ocean. It has waves, troughs, that are continuous. That is the nature of water, tides, gravity, and geology. There is the constant ups and downs, small and large, calm and violent, but one thing is an absolute, we cannot have peaks without troughs and the troughs without crests.  It’s the way water is, the nature of the thing itself. Now, someone who wants to remove all the low points from your life is offering you the perfect flat ocean. That might seem neat for a moment but not as a reality.  Flat water wouldn’t be an ocean. Flat water wouldn’t move. Flat water is a science fiction fantasy idea that only an idiot would offer you. 

     We live in the bittersweet. We exist and belong in the bittersweet and can learn to really enjoy that if we stop trying to make life flat. Life isn’t flat, isn’t going to be flat, and couldn’t exist if it was flat. Life, to be life, needs to have peaks and valleys, ups and down, Get used to it. Don’t cling to your suffering. Don’t cling to happiness. Allow things to have their own time, rise and fall, come and go, pulse large and small, and find the joy in whatever is happening, wherever  you are in the moment. It’s there, if you watch your breath and stay in center. 


Thank all the people that make posting possible. Looking forward to hearing from you.

Big Smiles to all,



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