Koan 3

“A man of wisdom delights at water” — Confucius


Water is like the universe, one thing and yet many things.

As it’s ever-changing, describing water is beyond the grasp of words; other than with one verse (uni-verse): it is what it is whatever it is.

Water manifests different shapes (clouds, rivers, oceans) and forms (vapor, liquid, and ice).

Water is interdependent, as a wave of water cannot be a wave without the sea.

Water is interconnected, from glacier, river and to the sea.

As drops of water, we fear not the rain; but together as a flood, over us they reign.

On water, we effortlessly float or panic and sink.

While essential to life, water also brings drowning and death.

Sound travels four times faster and longer in water than air, though it’s difficult to hear under water.

Water is odorless and tasteless, yet present in everything that smells and tastes.

Though colorless in a glass, water has a bluish hue when it gathers in the ocean.

Water in lakes and oceans, vast and seemingly impassable, becomes by boat the easiest pathways between places.

Still waters are dead-silent, yet moving waters are alive with sounds.

In a pond, still waters are clear and turbulent waters opaque.

Seeing ourselves and surroundings in a reflecting pond, we don’t notice the water.

Water is elusive to the grasp, but easily captured in cupped hands.

Water is weak, flowing to places of least resistance; unlike fire, destroying all in its way. Yet, water easily extinguishes fire.

While not hard like stone, high-pressure water cuts stone like it’s butter.

Counterintuitively, water (unlike most materials which contract when transitioning from liquid to solid form) expands when it freezes, which makes a quart of water weigh more than a quart of ice.

Symbolizing the cycle of life, water is born as rain, lives in infinite ways on Earth, and disappears as vapor; forming clouds for its rebirth.

Water is delightful as it is what it is whatever it is and how we see it is a reflection of who we are. A man of wisdom sees it variously.