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Season 3 - Episode 15

The River is Flowing

15 min - Talk


The destiny of the river is to flow to the sea, which represents oneness or wholeness. In Indian Mythology, Ma Ganga symbolizes the cleansing and nourishing quality of mother nature. Like the human journey, each droplet of water follows its own path back to the source. James sings a devotional song about the river and invites us to join along.
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Dec 04, 2015
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So, this idea of everything being alright, it can sometimes sound a little startling or shocking, but it's the idea in yoga that really everything is kind of on its path. It's all, everyone's on their own journey and everything is actually moving on closer to that ultimate destination of recognizing what we really are, this immortal undying essence that Krishna's been describing. And one image that is sometimes used to describe this is the image of a river and the river features in mythology from many spiritual traditions and it's interesting at this point and I think, you know, I'd like to share this idea is that for me, yoga isn't really an Indian thing, yoga is a Sanskrit word, but I consider yoga the deepest longing of the human heart and the essential ideas of yoga teachings, you find them in wisdom traditions from every continent and in wisdom traditions from every continent, natural archetypes like the river for example, often show up in story that carries really practical instruction. And this is certainly the case in the Indian tradition where rivers are often worshipped as representations of the force, the nourishing, cleansing, vitalizing force of Mother Nature. And one of the rivers that's most fabled and celebrated in India is Ma Ganga, the Ganges.

Now Ganga is a very interesting archetype, there are many beautiful stories about it and we don't have time for that right now, but her origin, like if we think, oh where does the Ganga start? We think, oh it starts in the Himalayan. Now Himalayan is an interesting word because Hima means snow and Ali means the abode. So Himalayan is the abode of snow. Now if we hear the word snow, the denotation, what first comes to mind is that cold white stuff, but the connotation of snow, in English sometimes we say as pure as the driven snow, snow is associated with that purity, that cleanliness and so the Himalaya, it's a relatively remote place and as the idea is a pure place, it's not being polluted by a lot of let's say barbaric human interference.

These days of course the Himalaya, there's a big queue of people trying to climb the big mountains, but back in the day it was a very, very serene place and so it's this abode of purity and that's where the Ganga is said to originate on earth, but they actually say the true origin of the Ganga is the heavenly celestial realm, the realm of the infinite. But when she comes down to earth and then springs in the Himalayan, what is her destiny? Just like any other river, she's going to run into the sea, into the ocean and the ocean is one of these great, it can be used in different ways symbolically, but the ocean is this great symbol of oneness or totality or wholeness because the river, whether the rivers are in flood or whether the rivers run dry, the ocean is brim full in the ocean, it's always full and so the destiny of every water droplet, of course if we're being pedantic we might say some of them will evaporate along the way, but they go up into the air and be recycled but eventually they will make it into the sea, into the ocean of fullness and if we think of the Ganga, how many water droplets are there in the Ganga? We cannot count this number and the areas of the water droplets they can be seen to represent all the individual souls that are part of this great essence and all the individual water droplets, they're making their own way down the mountain and through the plains to the ocean of fullness. Now water, it's famous for many things but one of them is that it follows the path of least resistance, however even though water follows the path of least resistance, how does each water droplet in the Ganga make its way from its source to the sea?

Each droplet follows a unique path and so this reminds us of what it's like to follow our path back home to the fullness that we really are. We have to follow our own way, we have to be true to ourselves but the idea is if we do that we will find a way. Now sometimes when we're practicing in life, we're diligently working our way along a spiritual path we might say, sometimes we have this sensation, I feel like I'm going round in circles, here I am falling into the same old trap again, that habit that I've been trying to come out for for so long, here I am again but actually it's not really that we're going round in circles, we might say we're kind of spiraling, we're finding our way more thoroughly through the terrain of this particular issue that's a challenge for us and if you go and observe a river, it's very very beautiful sometimes, you see that as the river makes its way down the mountain, sometimes there are little whirlpools, there are little eddies and sometimes the water even runs back against itself and it seems like those water droplets are destined to never make it, they're going backwards but if you observe long enough you'll see that as the water eddies around, each time it runs around a few water droplets manage to break off and join the flow that's continuing its way down the valley to the sea and so it's the idea that sometimes it might not look like it, sometimes it might look around at others or ourselves and think I'm not practicing, I'm just wasting my time, I was trying to come out of that old habit but here I am stuck again, but there's the idea that no we're not stuck, we're just learning that lesson more thoroughly because it's got more to teach us and so the idea is that actually the practice is always happening, we are always flowing along our path even when we don't realize it, so on that note I'd like to share a song, sing this song together and it uses this archetype of the river and it's too bad that Julia's not with us right now because I understand that the person who I first heard singing this song is one of her very dear teachers, so I was telling stories about Ganga in India and my dear friend Gordana said, oh there's a beautiful song about the river, this guy called Saul David Ray sings it, have you ever heard it, I'm like no and so she did a, she used the internet yeah and we searched and on YouTube we managed to find a recording of this beautiful teacher Saul David Ray introducing and singing this song and it's called The River is Flowing, the river is flowing, flowing and growing, the river is flowing onto the sea, oh mother carry me, your child I will always be, oh mother carry me onto the sea, father sunshine down on me, your child I will always be, father sunshine down on me until I am free and then we'll sing Aum Shakti and Aum Shanti, it's the idea that when we're living here on earth we are children of nature and when we work respectfully with nature she will carry us with such great support, we're children of the sun without the illumination of the consciousness which is symbolized by the sun in yoga how would we be able to have any experience at all and the idea is that when we work with this consciousness we give ourselves the chance here and now in a human body to actually become free and merge once more into that oneness even within a human body, so let's sing. The river is flowing, flowing and growing, the river is flowing onto the sea, the river is flowing, flowing and growing, the river is flowing onto the sea, oh mother carry me, a child I will always be, oh mother carry me onto the sea, oh mother carry me, a child I will always be, oh mother carry me onto the sea, far sunshine down on me, a child I will always be, far sunshine down on me, until I am free, far sunshine down on me, a child I will always be, far sunshine down on me, until I am free, oh shakti, oh shakti, oh shakti, oh shakti, oh shakti, oh shakti, oh shakti, oh shakti, oh shakti, oh shakti, Flowing and growling, the river is flowing, unto the sea. The river is flowing, flowing and growling, the river is flowing, unto the sea.

Oh, Mother, carry me a child, I will always be. Oh, Mother, carry me unto the sea.


Caroline S
Oh James the river...I like this, we may move back a bit in life, in practice, but it's not moving back, it's a spiral, what a beautiful way to describe our flow.  The river that flows to the ocean of totality, fullness, thank you for reminding me with this beautiful song x

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