“What then is freedom? The power to live as one wishes.” -Marcus Tullius Cicero
The beautiful thing about water is that it can take any shape, comes in a large variety of forms, and can be both destructive and life-giving. You may have heard parallels between a life of flow and the quality of water, such as the famous Bruce Lee line “Be as water my friend.” There is immense power to this imagery because it can act as a reminder in our daily lives.
Be As Water My Friend
Removing the esoteric aspect of what it means to “be as water”, I mean it simply as a movement through life that is authentic, moment by moment, and free of rigid ideas or beliefs. Simple, but not easy. I’ve written in the past month about bold action, doubt and meditation. In my mind, these are all rivers that flow into the ocean of formlessness.
Through meditation it is possible to see the noise that builds up in your mind, and through consistent practice, it is possible to see it as it happens, not just on the meditation cushion.
Through bold action it is possible to live authentically without giving in to insecurity. Whether that bold action is simply being straight with someone or allowing yourself to fall in love, the primary quality is self-trust.
Through doubt it is possible to not attach to new rigid beliefs once this process begins, such as “I am ultra spiritual and understand the world better than other people” as this is merely another unnecessary label.
In the ocean of formlessness, you are no longer separate from the world or other people. The ocean can connect to streams, rivers, ponds, or hot springs, and it is both all of these things, but none of these things at the same time. It is simply water.
Living In The Real World As Water
Moving things into the real world, through these practices you begin to see who you really are before memory. To begin to live like a curious child who simply moves from experience to experience. Your adult knowledge and experience doesn’t magically go away, but there is no longer a need to cling onto it.
The self-help books and spiritual gurus, the philosophers and psychologists, the various religious leaders, they are like the various streams, rivers, ponds and hot springs. They are a part of the ocean, but can’t escape being the ocean itself. To rigidly attach to any ideology is to mistake the river for the ocean, simply because they are both water.
Formlessness is trusting that you are the ocean, and are both all of these concepts, and none of them. To be able to use concepts which are valuable and help develop your self-love and self-trust, without seeing them as separate or outside of you. All this without rigidly attaching to any ideology as “the answer”.
To be formless is to be who you were before rigid external beliefs began to rule your life. It is the most direct path to self-trust and the ultimate freedom.