Siddhartha and the River


This morning I went down to the river after an absence of a few days.

It was very cold and windy - but comforting - and familiar.

The remains of the broken sapling were gone...

As I clutched a warm thermos - I did my lovingkindness meditations and prayers while I listened to the water lapping ferociously against the rocks and surfaces, and the section within Hermann Hesse's classic - Siddhartha - where Siddhartha has an enlightening experience and relationship with a river he crosses at two important junctures of his life - came clearly into focus in my mind.

Here are some excerpts I found relevant:

I will remain by this river...
May my present path, my new life, start from there!


In his heart he heard the newly awakened voice speak,
and it said to him:

"Love this river, stay by it, learn from it."

Yes, he wanted to learn from it, he wanted to listen to it.
It seemed to him that whoever understood this river and its secrets,
would understand much more, many secrets, all secrets.


But today he only saw one of the river's secrets,
one that gripped his soul.
He saw that the water continually flowed
and yet it was always there;
it was always the same and yet every moment it was new.
Who could understand, conceive this?


The river has taught me to listen; you will learn from it too.
The river knows everything; one can learn everything from it.
You have already learned from the river
that it is good to strive downwards, to sink, to seek the depths...


..He learned much more from the river
[than anyone] could teach him.
He learned from it continually.
Above all, he learned from it how to listen,
to listen with a still heart,
with a waiting, open soul, without passion,
without desire, without judgment, without opinions...


[He learned from the river that there was no thing as time.]

That the river is everywhere at the same time,
at the source and at the mouth,
at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the current, in the ocean,
and in the mountains, everywhere,
and that the present only exists for it,
not the shadow of the past,
nor the shadow of the future...


And when I learned that,
I reviewed my life and it was also a river...


The river has many voices...

[He] listened silently to the water,
which...was not just water,
but the voice of life,
the voice of Being,
of perpetual Becoming...


I sat here and listened to the river.
It has told me a great deal,
it has filled me with many great thoughts,
with thoughts of unity...


I left the river filled and with a deeper appreciation for its role in my journey...

I left the river with Siddhartha's experience - a mirror of my own - emblazoned on my heart.

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