Sunday, 11 July 2010

Deep Ocean Heart

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

12 comments:

hadv said...

I think water is coming to your attention because you're paying/giving it attention. I like that water mala idea btw..

Theresa said...

Hi Hadv - you could very well be right about that! With the whole BP obscenity, my water senses are heightened even more than usual....

Simply Authentic said...

Enjoyed your ponderings on this Theresa! That's crazy to me that Alberta is trying to change water rights and I appreciated your thoughts on humans always looking outward rather than inward. If that's your water bowl pictured at the top, it's gorgeous! And BP obscenity---those words go together quite well!!

Theresa said...

Hi SA! That isn't my water bowl, just one of the pictures of the ones they make there, for the water malas. It is beautiful, isn't it, with the glaze such a nice blue-green color reminiscent of the ocean. I would surely love a bowl like that but then I thought I don't really need one of those to give more attention to water. I ended up cleaning out my little relaxation fountain thingy I already have, that had gotten a bit gucky with mineral build up and scum. I've decided that will be my focal point of attention, and that I will keep my little rocky fountain bowl properly cleaned, maintained and filled. :)

Jerry said...

I love the bit about giving attention, not paying attention. I too wish more people gave attention to water. My whole life I have tried to give attention to water, starting with the massive marsh I was so lucky to grow up beside.

Theresa said...

Hi Jerry - growing up by a marsh would certainly have that effect I think. I grew up near a river, but didn't really appreciate water until I moved to BC to go to school and the ocean was all around and so influential on everything and everyone. Even so I have only just been paying attention, not giving attention to it. It is a different type of attention alright. I'd be happy if more people just acknowleged it as essential to life.

Marguerite Manteau-Rao said...

Thank you Theresa, for this beautiful post.

Being in the shower almost always bring me into deep contemplative state. About being in the moment, and grateful for the gift of water, and even more so hot water, and the purifying experience of body being cleansed.

Water is also such a great metaphor for impermanence. Always in a state of flux.

With much metta,

marguerite

Theresa said...

Thank you Margeurite for your lovely reflections. I have always been compelled by water, since I was a kid. I remember being in awe of my 7th grade Science teacher who held up a beaker of water and talked about its amazing properties for half an hour! I think the 'give attention to water' koan could keep me occupied for quite some time. :)

CheyenneVyvyan said...

I listened to the same CBC program. I am struggling with my consumption of water. Last weekend, my husband, my baby, and I went camping. Because I had to transport all of the water we used from the communal tap, I became aware of how much water I required for every day tasks and I realized how difficult I would find it to only use my fair share. This summer my family began to shower with a bucket in the bathtub to use to water our outdoor plants, which is a start but not enough.

Theresa said...

Hi Cheyenne - every drop counts! I know when our power goes out and we have no way to pump water in from the cistern, I really appreciate water even more then!

Dogo Barry Graham said...

Here in the desert, water has an urgency that's hard to miss if you're paying attention, and yet there's still an amazing amount of neglect and waste.

Theresa said...

Hi Barry - thanks for coming by and taking the time to comment. I can relate to what you're saying. A couple years back I was visiting some relatives in Phoenix and they didn't think water was a problem - they would just divert more flow from going downstream to Mexico they said. I was stunned.