Walking the World: As the River Runs

Love your Curls ...Reflecting upon this tragedy
of the destruction of the Rhine,
I'm struck by the parallel between our
attempts to control Nature
and the river,

and our efforts to control
ourselves, our own behavior
and even consciousness itself.

It seems to me that nowhere does
this similarity come out more strongly
than in our approach to what we
think of as the quiet mind
or meditation...
Thought, inherently unable to grasp the whole, cuts down the forest upon
which the health of an entire watershed depends, thereby fragmenting
the weave of the natural order. It then, unaware of what it has done,
goes on in endlessly futile attempts to control the fragments. With the river,
straightening and reinforcing its banks; with the mind, disciplining it into
a confused image of a harmonious, unitary flow. And once we have
made this wrong turn, the momentum builds and acquires all the force
of inevitability behind it.

The result, of course, is both a dead river and a dull mind. And yet, sooner
or later, the natural energies of both the river and the mind move to free
themselves, breaking through the arbitrarily imposed limitations, which
is then promptly answered by an even greater effort to control. Clearly,
this is but one and the same movement, one which is destructive
in a largely unnoticed and insidious way because one is caught in
the illusion of creating order while, in fact, the very opposite is the case.

As I walk these mountains, I sense in my heart that there is also the possibility
of one vast movement of healing of both the river and the mind.  
It is really a necessary unity. For if the mind is free,  
so too will the river run.

(Photo: "I Love your Curls", late spring: a glacier stream high in the great River Rhine Watershed.  
This water, which is rarely much warmer than 6 or 7 degrees Celsius, flows from the surrounding
4,000 meter high peaks and ice fields, 1,300 kilometers to Holland and the North Sea.

As the River Runs  is a part of Walking the World, a series of metaphysical essays which
explores the relationship between out thought or consciousness as a whole and how we think about
or perceive the world of Nature around us. The setting is the European Alps, where I've had 
the opportunity to live for extended periods of time since 1982, and where many of the photographs
of this exposition where made. In the 18 journal-like essays of Walking the World, I'm on a long
mountaineering trek from the historic central Gotthard area of the Alps, through much of the Cristallina,
on to the Monta Rosa, the great Cervino (the Matterhorn), and then south, to Gran Paradiso.

To see a map of the watersheds of this area, go to AstheRiverRunsMap

For the
Picture/Poem Display, I've excerpted passages from Walking the World which I thought
might work nicely together with the selected images. If you would like to read one of the longer essays
in its expanded form, go to
Week IV and The Devil Stands on the other Side.

Also, you might like to look at a related the little thought-poem, DAM, from a series called WOODCUTS.
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(Last update: III.9.2002)