In late summer, I would swim and stream-walk a small section of the Raccoon River. While sedimented for decades now, the water was clear in the shallows. For a few years now, the water is pea-green from edge-to-edge. For decades and worse now, this water has strongly contributed to a vast hypoxia zone in the Gulf.

In the 1980s, I wrote about the wisdom of the river, focusing on the Des Moines River as a living, very open metaphor for the essential streaming dynamic of the universe that is within us as well in the streaming of our body metabolism and thought.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Sacred Water, Part 3

See Sacred Water Part 2 12/15/16
See Sacred Water Part 1 10/13/16
See River-Keeping 12/5/16
See Flowing Wisdom 10/27/16
See A Praise Of Water 9/16/16

If you feel lost, disappointed, hesitant, or weak, return to yourself, to who you are, here and now and when you get there, you will discover yourself, like a lotus flower in full bloom, even in a muddy pond, beautiful and strong. 
Masaru Emoto, The Secret Life of Water

Water does not resist. Water flows. When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress. Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it. Water is patient. Dripping water wears away a stone. Remember that, my child. Remember you are half water. If you can't go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does.”
Margaret Atwood - The Penelopiad

HAIL WATER, full of grace.  Water, wind and light are connection made visible in a very real way.  We don’t pray to these events to bring them into our lives.  We are these events.  We do not praise them in an effort to purify them, but rather to cleanse ourselves by bring our attention to them.

The mountains, rivers, earth, grasses, trees, and forests, are always emanating a subtle, precious light, day and night, always emanating a subtle, precious sound, demonstrating and expounding to all people the unsurpassed ultimate truth.
It is just because you miss it right where you are, or avoid it even as you face it, that you are unable to attain actual use of it.
Yuansou, from “Expedients and Reality,” in Thomas Cleary, Zen Essence

When water is “you” and life itself, everyday actions can transform.  Value changes so that water becomes prioritized rather than being a secondary commodity.  And this “spiritual reality” is practical rather than esoteric.  Respect for water optimizes its economic contributions to daily life.  Not respecting water adds major financial costs to clarify and also increases public health costs.

(After Devon Pena, Aceqia [“A-see-key-ah”], on water democracy):
Spirit is essentially a dissolution of boundaries of things and self into other selves AND
attentiveness to the activity of primal order.  Such a perception is not fantasy or even esoteric reality; it is practical and optimal living.  Water, for example, reaches from ocean to rainfall, to stream to riparian edge and extends seamlessly into human life. 


Landscape is infused with spirit, every tree, stone, and even things that humans make.  And yet, in modern life, such a sense of spirit doesn’t exist.

in the garden of beauty
the intensity of our use introduces a shadow.
Because of this shadow
the commonness of water equates unimportance

do not pass by
listen and see

Water is present throughout the cosmos
yet rare are conditions that permit liquid water

Liquid water is the ground of life

Deep wellsprings of human culture--the sacred forest, the
 tree as a landscape with spirit, and so, too, water and stone--can inform modernity. 
A “modernity” that will soon add a billion people to the Earth and that favors electricity, autos, water, soil, food safety, can decimate human health.  An ecological civilization can optimize human life and is at the pinnacle of human development.  

Inhabitation is “place-based” where “self-care,” when healthy and sustaining, prioritizes the landscape down to the smallest details.  Inhabitation values the smallest details--a particular bird, snail, bee or butterfly as a valuable aspect of self.  This has an optimizing aspect upon water, atmosphere, food sources.  The human community acts as a “keystone species” that melds new forms as an extension of primal forms, giving standing to primal forms and non-human otherness as primal, essential rather than separate and secondary..”

Sustainability is not stewardship.  Sustainability is habitation that follows the primal instructions. Primal” does not reference ancient or archaic or primitive in the sense of being simple and less complex.  Primal is “foundational”  or “core”  and “first.”  The “eternal” is not past, but rather references the “enduring,” and as such is in the present moment.  

How is “sacred Earth” not a reach?  

Increasingly urbanized and spending the majority of time alive inside buildings, it is to be recollected that most of human development has been spent in unbuilt landscapes.  The landscape has a healing capacity--wind, fragrance, wild plants, bird-song, light and colors in water, wind song in high tree branches, sunrises and sunsets, stars, insect chants, and even space itself both sheltering and wide open.  It can be felt as “homeland.”  In The Outermost House, Henry Beston suggests  that, in fact, we “hunger” for the elemental before the senses.  There is a sense of shinrin-yoko or “forest-bathing” as Earth-healing, both from mental calmness and the role of natural materials as medicine for immunity.

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