Alex Adams meditates on the paradox of a stream – February 2021
I have been struggling with zazen recently. While I am still sitting, my real meditation these days is to visit a stream near my house nearly every day. Walking across fields, past houses and horses and into the woods to visit the stream. It meanders through the woods, but I always visit it in the same large clearing. Lately, it has been covered in ice and I can only hear its water gurgling, bubbles rushing over the stones under its ice cover. It is never the same. Iced over now, it will be open again soon, making ice sculptures along its banks or from the branches hanging down into the water. Once, I came across the ice forming into a fish sculpture. It taught me that water is really an artist, the memory of the fish swimming in the water lingers although no fish are now present. A revelation to me then.
Yet, with all its changes and cold mountain water rushing by, ever-changing in the seasons, it is still a stream.
Yet, with all its changes and cold mountain water rushing by, ever-changing in the seasons, it is still a stream. The stream’s essential essence is unchanged. A paradox to be ever-changing, flowing, growing, creating, being alive and also to be essentially itself. Always and forever on a pathway to the ocean, carrying water in an endless cycle of snow and rain falling, melting, rushing downhill and to the sea. So much we have to learn from this.
As I dip and splash my hands into the ice-cold water and feel its energy, I thank the stream for the teachings it brings to me of the artistry of creation and the creator, of the beauty of cold rushing water over stones, of magical evanescent ice sculptures, of not clinging tightly to the shore but letting go and remembering we are headed to the ocean.
If I can but remember this and embrace this paradox of ever changing, growing, creating, freezing, thawing, and yet essentially the same, part of the great cycle returning to the ocean. This will set me free, to splash and gurgle and make ice sculptures, joyfully flowing downhill to the ocean, not afraid to become part of that bigness, that magnificence full of creatures and salt and endless horizons.
Alex Adams, M.D., Ph.D. is a Zen Leadership Practitioner and the Director and Principal Investigator at the Center for American Indian and Rural Health Equity (CAIRHE), Montana State University.
Webinar: Zen and Leadership
Our line of Zen has long been associated with the martial arts, a connection beautifully articulated by Omori Sogen in Zen and Budo. In this webinar, Ginny Jiko Whitelaw Roshi will draw on her deep experience to make the case that Zen and Leadership is the new Zen and Budo (martial way). She will explore how we need to approach Zen leadership to live up to the high standard of being a Way, or “do” in Japanese.
This Wednesday, March 10 Webinar will take place from 7:30-8:30pm, immediately after daily evening Zazen.
Zen Leader 2 / HEAL 2, April 22-25
Take the next step toward unleashing your capacity to lead from your whole self! This program is open to graduates of The Zen Leader 1 and HEAL1 (or equivalent), showing the way to greater resilience, effectiveness and positive change. Join Rebecca Ryan and Heather Scobie to free yourself from fear, expand your influence, empower the best in others, resolve conflict, and lead from a deeper sense of connection.
The program runs in blocks from Thursday evening, April 22 through noon on Sunday, April 25. It is especially tuned for people in American time zones. Learn more and register here for:
leadership skills and energy podcast
It was my pleasure to join leadership expert and wonderful interviewer, Zoë Routh, in this podcast. We discuss my leadership journey and how resonance-building practices are key to clearing trauma and stuckness, strengthening relationships, and leading true to purpose.
Do we know how to find you?
If you received this from a friend and want your own monthly boost of insight and resources, let us know.