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, written by Jeremy. Read the commentary.

There’s an unobservable line between ambition and growth. Where movement can be too early, just right, or too late. When does growth stop and stagnation take over? When is a switch premature?

I don’t think the answer is outside us. No one has the answer … besides ourselves.

I’ve never really loved my work .. well maybe that job just after my MSc. That little stint consulting was as close to brilliant as I’ve come in my career. Yet, there are lots of jobs I hated that I needed to keep; they were good for me. They made me grow. Movement too early would mean I’d miss that growth.

Growth and movement are sometimes complimentary but often paradoxical. To grow, one has to stay yet to continue to grow, one has to move. While thinking about this, I suddenly and surprisingly thought about water. Water?

Have you ever thought about water? I hadn’t.

Water lies in wait. It looks for a chance to touch more – to be in more places. It reaches into every pore and every opening. Expanding and contracting it opens paths. It does all of this passively.

Water is a great metaphor. At once enormously powerful, absolutely devestating, integral for life, and the most beautiful aspect of the planet. Just two hydrogen and one oxygen – it is everything.

Water always seeks the lowest spot, fills gaps, and builds to capacity. Its position is never undermined and in every situation it erodes its own position. It controls motion, cools heat, dillutes pain, absorbs pollution, transports almost anything, and is everywhere. And upon it pivots every single valuable aspect of life.

One way to look at change, movement, and growth is the regular path involving set goals and ladders and paths. The other is to explore every pore, taste every opportunity, seek the unimaginable. Never upward; go down. Digg deeply, erode timelessly, seek habitually, polish endlessly.

I wonder – Does water resonate with humanity because it is, in a single expression, both balance and equivalence? Is this what we yearn for? It represents a pattern of knowing, a truth, that is universally recognized. It expresses a hope for the future deperately needed today by embracing everything vulgar and filth-ridden and still coming through clean and useful. It is the only system on earth comprised of itself. It represents a foundation. Something unshakeable. Something valueless and priceless at once.

When I constantly seek up … when I fight for more levels … when I seek a response … when I ask to be valued … I only express ambition. These aren’t necessary. When I am … when I seek the core … when I touch everything … I become delightful and priceless.

Like water, it’s not for me to make my name … my name is being made.

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Commentary

The 12th century mystics also thought water was a valuable metaphor. They used it’s passivity to define true power. They spoke about a final union of the spirit that only a few ever realized. And I imagine they spoke of it rarely. This was about a union with non-nature, the non-natural, the divine … a final union, the last part of a long journey.

They spoke this way because language was not up to the task. They said in this final union there is no real way to tell where God ended and the person started, like there is no way to tell where the river ends and the ocean starts.

They employed water to explain. No shape, no color, no flavor, no smell. Water is neutral and pliable. It assumes the shape of it’s container. If you throw it on the ground it assumes the shape of the ground. It has no desire to assume any shape except that imposed upon it. It accepts modification without comment. Water was a metaphor for the condition of the spirit surrendered to God. God states that which He wants to pour through you at the moment.

Christ said he never acted of his own accord. He only did what He saw the Father doing. Was Christ water?

I have given them the glory that you gave me that they may be one as we are one. I in them and you in me. (John 17)

Like water.

This lovely John, thanks.

“Passivity to define true power.”

Can you flesh that even more John? I think you’ve got more to give there. And I think it rings with other ideas I’m keen on.

Here is what lay under the thought, not pronounced, but mined here should it explain.

What are the dimensions of power?

It is the same answer that lay beneath every aspects of life. There are at least three dimensions to everything. (Art has a fourth).

There is truth. Truth is a fact about knowing. You can know many things, but only some are really true and others are really false. Truth is a knowing that aligns with real truth or does not.

There is the right. A person’s conduct can be really good or it can be really bad.

And there is fairness: a person’s action towards others can be just or unjust.

Many deny objectivity in these essential and inescapable categories of thought, and instead decide that truth, goodness, and justice are relative concepts. If they are relative, power is perhaps a meaningless term, except that which is lorded over others by force.

I think the mystics suggest this: The perfect power (perfect alignment with truth, goodness, and justice) is achieved through a form of passivity; that is, by allowing one self to be aligned with the perfectness of a mind that is outside of nature altogether. The source, they would say, of real power, is not within you, but without. It is not your own, and by becoming as water (a metaphor only) you tap in to the absolute source.

A mystic, one concerned (to the exclusion of all else) with the thought of God, and thereby union with God, would see all this through a Christian understanding of the world.

I doubt very much some one truly great like St. John of the Cross, or Meister Eckhart, thought about propaganda at all. There was no interest in selling religion. There was experience, and then the struggle to understand it followed.

And I think they were as surprised as anyone to find out that in matters of the spirit, paradox ruled. The more passive and accepting of the authority of another, the more powerful in fact they became. The lower you bow, the taller you stand.

But truth and goodness and justice are not pursued today, as they were in every age past, as literature shows. Today, it may be more accurate to say that money is mistaken for truth, beauty mistaken for goodness, and competition mistaken for justice. It is to the rich and beautiful and competitive that society awards power.

In my post I suggested Christ was more like water than anyone else – he was part of the water itself. “Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? But he is also the most powerful person to have lived in recorded history. He is at the still-point of the world’s history.

Jeremy,

In the 29th hexagram of the I Ching, water is associated with danger. “Water…flows on and on, and merely fills up all the places through which it flows; it does not shrink from any dangerous spot nor from any plunge, and nothing can make it lose its essential nature. It remains true to itself under all conditions. Thus likewise, if one is sincere when confronted with difficulties, the heart can penetrate the meaning of the situation…In danger all that counts is really carrying out all that has to be done.”

That is lovely I think.

It is wonderful. Thank you.

Does this fit with your emerging understanding of purpose?

“Flowing on and on”, and the other terms used in that I Ching verse to describe water, sound to me more like descriptions of the energy or genius of water than any kind of purpose. In my lexicon, purpose is a concrete reality outside the nature of the thing (or person). So the purpose question would be, “What is the genius of water called to create?”

So, for example, in that verse, the genius of water is perhaps called to a purpose that has to do with penetrating a particular external danger.

Oh, I see what you had in mind.

When I thought: “Be as water.” I understood it as an attitude rather than a purpose. A foundation or perspective from which to observe purpose. A way of being and opening to that understanding.

I thought the selfless and unassuming nature of water might ring with your growing ideas around discovering purpose.

… too many metaphors perhaps. Simple things involve the most complicated explanations.