As the River Runs
...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
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.