The softness of water is its strength.
As it moves and changes so easily, it’s impossible to break it. Touch it, and it moves to accept the space for your finger.It flows over anything, around anything, and it can adapt to fit into any space at all.
Try bending ice even a little bit; it just breaks.
The wisest people are also the most humble, and the most humble people are the softest, the ones who will accept change easily rather than locking themselves and resisting. Ajan gives this advice all the time. “Be De L’Eau!” Be like water.
We have to be like water. We have to flow easily, be soft, adaptable, take any shape, follow any path, move faster than you can think, change right away if we see we have to.
Being like water is about the beauty of giving way, the grace and freedom that lies in changing, of not being sticky to any idea, any philosophy, any opinion, even any notion of Yourself.
It covers so many cases.
It means to embrace humility; to never think that you are the one who knows it all and has everything figured out (it is surely not the case, and you are just setting yourself up for future pain when you allow yourself to believe this!)
When you are told by somebody you respect and admire that you are wrong and the person next to you is right, being like water is to reject the squirming feeling of dissatisfaction and unhappiness that wants to come inside at that moment, it means to say “Okay, no problem, tell me how I can correct the mistake, what did I misunderstand?”
It means to not make a big Self with your ideas and your opinions. Often we become sticky to a way of doing something, or an opinion about something – then, even if our idea is challenged, we automatically defend it even if inside we are not sure whether it is right or not. Why are you so attached to this way or this idea? Only because it’s yours. To criticize my idea means you’re criticizing ME. Insult my idea and you insult ME. That’s why you we defend our ideas automatically in this way: we think it’s ME.
Being like water means that once you make a calculation, form an opinion and an idea about something, you’re also able to let it go; as fast as letting go of a burning hot object, if you get new information, or a new perspective, and are shown that it’s not correct.
It means that even if you know your idea is correct, you’re still prepared to sometimes let it go, give it up, whether for the sake of harmony, or because it’s a waste of time and energy to argue for hours over something that in the end of the day doesn’t change all that much. Whether the weeding is done by hoe or by hand, it still gets done somehow (and the weeds will still grow back sooner or later!)
It means to be prepared to accept correction from anywhere, to see anyone as a teacher, to learn from anywhere and anyone, even if you don’t like the person very much – they might still know more than you in one area or another. So learn!
Learn too that no mistake you make is completely uncorrectable; every moment you have the potential to become something different to what you were a moment ago, every moment you have the potential to leave behind whatever you have done in the past.
It’s being quick to admit you are wrong, asking forgiveness easily and forgiving even more easily. Refusing to carry around a bad feeling after a disagreement with somebody – flowing forward like water, leaving behind what is past.
Finally, it’s about the acceptance that we can’t ever hold onto anything. We will lose it, it will change, it will be in the past, so why try grasping at anything?
In meditation, you see that everything is in constant flux and flow; everything is changing as inevitably, and as fast, as water flowing downhill, and we too are changing with it. Your mind right now is not the same mind as it was when you started reading this article. Your body is changing every second, every moment. Nothing will stay the same, nothing ever truly goes according to plan, and even if things are going according to plan, that can’t last for long.
And just as water endlessly keeps flowing downhill, the life is endlessly flowing towards the end of it regardless of the path it takes there, regardless of whatever dams, rapids, weirs and obstacles block its path.
This is one completely undeniable truth. So why don’t we allow it to affect how we behave? Why don’t we allow it to change us? Why are we so sticky to everything?
Like water we don’t want to stick to anything, don’t want to hold onto anything, and we have to learn the art of let go. When we meditate, and in every day, we are learning to be like water, although we have learned through most of our lives only how to be like ice.