For the past week or so it seems like wherever I turn, something to do with water or water issues has come front and centre for me.
For example, earlier this week was the first talk in Tricycle's retreat with Sensei Bonnie Myotai Treace. In this talk, (which is free, by the way - check it out!), Myotai talks about a number of things water-related, in particular the koan, "give attention to water." (Note that this wording emphasizes something different than to "pay" attention.) Part of the practice at Hermitage Heart is the making and distributing of handmade ceramic bowls, in groups of 108, to form a 'water mala.' Recipients of the bowls give attention to water by keeping the bowl filled at all times, in the knowlege that the other 107 recipients are doing the same. I find this very compelling as I do my best to give more attention to water in my life.
Then, a few days ago, I saw on twitter that a new website and initiative was launched here in Alberta, by the name of ourwaterisnotforsale.com . This initiative is in response to the Alberta government's wrongheaded and greedy idea to change how water is allocated in this province, namely, "a market system that distributes water based on the ability to pay." Because of NAFTA and other free-trade agreements, we won't be able to reverse this decision if we want to later. It is a totally short-sighted and completely irresponsible position for our government to take, sadly like a lot of their other decisions. (I could rant further here, but I'm restraining myself.) If you live in Alberta, and you want the government to actually look at more responsible ways to allocate water, say by fairness, ecological sustainability and the fact that safe, clean water is a human right, you may want to sign the open letter to Alberta's 'Environment' Minister, Rob Renner. I have.
And then today, just as I was getting into the shower actually, David Suzuki's CBC Radio program, The Bottom Line, began playing on my handy shower radio. He was interviewing deep sea diver Sylvia Earle, and they began talking about all sort of profound things. Like how we have environmental reserves for 12% of the land surface of the Earth, but only less than .1% of the oceans under protection. How there are only 10% of blue fin tuna left, and how if aliens saw our planet from space, they would undoubtedly think it odd that it is called Earth rather than Water, given the relative proportion of dry land to ocean. And, what really struck me was their conversation about why we prefer to shoot ourselves into space rather than learn about and understand our oceans. They mused about it for a while, without postulating anything. But I will postulate a little:
I think it's because we as humans are (in)famous for looking outward instead of inward. For looking away rather than toward. For distracting ourselves from what is right in front of us. For going for the brass ring instead of appreciating the horse. And I think we're a little bit scared to look into the deep, mysterious place that is the ocean, even though our very lives depend on the water it contains. Just like we're usually afraid to look inside ourselves and see clearly what's really there. It takes more courage to look there than it does to look away.
I hope, as a species, we grow up pretty quick now and start doing the hard work of looking inward at the source of our universal vitality. Because we are water, in a very literal sense.
Picture of one of the water mala bowls courtesy 108Bowls