The River

If you have come to the source, why do you want to go back again to the banks of the river?

Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, from ‘Beyond Freedom’.

Imagine the source of a river, the point where it wells up from the ground. At this point, there are no two sides, just one source. As soon as the water leaves the source and starts to flow in any given direction, it has created separation, created polarities – the left and the right bank of the river.

Think of the water of the river as Consciousness, and the banks of the river as Manifest Polarities: There must always be two banks, the left and the right; just as there must be Polarities in all of Manifestation – hot and cold, day and night, plus and minus, fullness and emptiness; the list would go on and on.

Now imagine a water rat, which lives at some point on the river. The water rat would make its nest in one bank of the river. All it would know is that a river has two banks, and it can choose to live and hunt on either, wherever it finds the best conditions. The water rat will normally have no cause to ask itself where the river came from, and what its nature was at that source.

From the perspective of human beings, who know how rivers work, where they come from and where they go to, the world view of the water rat is limited and incomplete. But now we need to put ourselves in the position of the water rat: We live in a world, in which we get born, live our lives and die. If we do not earnestly inquire about where this world came from, and what the larger context of our lives is, we are basically no different to the water rat.

The idea of the river serves us in that respect: All Manifestation flows from the source, which is the Divine. And the ‘water’ or flow of Beingness connects us with the source – however long the river may be, the water is a continuous medium. Personal experiments and experiences with Non-local Perception show that this connectedness, non-separateness right back to the source, can indeed be experienced – all you need to do is appropriate exercises.

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