Pearl Fishing in the Great River
We have entered the time of the Water Dragon and the world is alive with great change…..
The Water Dragon is like a powerful river – the spirit of the waters alive with vitality and strength, the Dragon returning to the deepest levels of Life …..when the Dragon returns and flows with the river’s power, throughout the land it enters Life with the force of a mighty watercourse in spate, fed by 10,000 mountain springs and myriad storms…..all in its path is swept up within its dynamic flow, everything changes, and the flow of change itself becomes charged with the rising divine energy of the Dragon…..
When Change becomes charged with divine energy, so that the power of spirit supercedes the limitations of the mundane, ordinary life takes on the appearance of continual transformation that is driven by powers beyond the control of human mentality – how do we work with this energy, how do we bring our personal and collective paths into accord with its direction? The wise-women and men of old left us instructions, the waymarkers, signs and symbols born of their experience and knowledge of such times, to assist us in this……
In keeping with the cultural origins of the Water Dragon, as a symbol and a power, within the body of the I Ching we find this as a beginning…….bring your awareness into the place of clarity and repose within, make good the inner and outer shrines, and make offerings according to the sincerety you find there……what is most sincere is uncorrupted and free of conditioning, is in accord with the times and the flow of change, so offerings made at this time, in this way, will establish the real and eliminate the false…..(1)
In the outer world, when the winds of change are picking up strength (the I Ching presents the image of the wind above the earth) we are called into a state of alert observation, being careful. Gradual progress is favoured, not advancing with impetuousity, but, with clarity of mind. This is the way of correcting degeneration…..in the beginning, if clarity of mind is to be the foundation of our actions, making use of actions that themselves encourage clarity itself and fostering alert observation, ‘making good the shrines’ is the symbol of finding the peaceful meeting place of mind, heart and spirit such that correcting degeneration may follow naturally from this. In our world, this is also ‘coming into accord with’ our current times……
But, the power of the Dragon is beyond human mentality – it is celestial in origin, cannot be contained, and is by nature both beneficial and transformative, the fundamental life-force that animates Life. It is the human mentality that is sincere and able to honour this power that can cultivate reality and flow with the changes at large in the world in such times. The Oracle of Changes continues……
…..when the real comes, the false naturally submits; this requires the gradual cultivation of the mundane through the influence of the divine. This is like honouring the deity, where the gradual process of cultivation rests upon sincerety. By the gradual effects of sincerety our communication with the spirit of the deity works to cultivate reality and, in this way, cultivating reality does not rest on the physical, but, on spiritual clarity; first you make the heart, mind and spirit sincere and truthful, then you practice it in the body. This is the meaning of ‘alert observation’. There is a great treasure contained here…..
Spiritual clarity works silently, swift without being hasty, entering by sincerity, functioning with flexibility, penetrating the barrier between the immanent and the manifest, producing light in the openess within. From alert observation generating illumination awareness expands, and, from observation of the spirit reaching observation of the great, a black pearl hangs in the great void, illuminating the whole world as if it were in your palm. What is this ‘black pearl’?
In the Taoist symbols we find the colour black representing a state of profound tranquility and detachment; we also find the symbol of the pearl representing clarified awareness. The great void is the primordial origins, the source of all things. Being sincere and bringing our clarified awareness into the meeting place of the spirit and the mundane and fostering alert observation, the illumination arising from source amidst tranquility – detached from aquired conditioning and human mentality, our spirit and the great spirit in harmony, and the great river in which we swim illumined with the inner light of the blackpearl, our actions become like the pearl fishers – diving deep into the element of Change.
And yet, the fast flowing powers of the great river in spate, the force of change at work within the world, have another meaning…….
The great river is also the symbol of difficulty, danger, adversity and obstacles, the trials and toils of life. Who would fish for pearls in such waters?
The image of the Water Dragon is also like the power of heaven at work within the Waters. Pitfalls above, strength and illumination below. Being sound and strong and able to manage within the midst of danger. Although not everyone is ready for such challenges, when the times carry the power of change and change is unavoidable, everywhere and affecting everything, the practice and meaning of making good the shrines, the clarity and sincerity we find within will reveal path of action – even those who are ready may be guided to wait. Restoring the primordial within the temporal, even when outer action is delayed, the wise nurture strength within – this is the path of strength and firmness that cultivates the primordial within the temporal and knows when to act. Being in alert observation, we are guided to know when to dive in to the fast flowing river, and, being ready but holding firm is the path of power that nurtures the strength we need to do so. As the oracle says – we cannot presume upon our strength and set about the task impetuously – that would bring on danger.
When the Water Dragon is at large in the world timing is everything, even when it subsumes choice…..we cannot foresee every change or danger in such times, so, our inner wisdom and guidance becomes of the highest value. This itself rests upon making good the shrines. If, however, we assume upon our strength and act impetuously, it is like allowing the powerful under-currents of change to draw us downwards with the flow of the great river deeper in, deeper into the body of difficulty itself. Without clarity, strength and a sense of timing that comes from inner guidance our connection with the illuminating power that arises from source is quickly superceded…..
We live in a world in which, not only is great change at work, but, this change itself is revealing its origins – and, within this, we can see that the quality of change we are experiencing has itself arisen from impetuous actions that have lacked clarity and inner guidance – the mundane world is riven with the hollowness that arises when spirit is not met, in the very place where we could be illuminated with the wisdom of the spirit. The understanding of spirit is up to the individual person, but, when spirit is not met this understanding will either arise from mundane conditioning or not arise at all, which is the place of great danger. Even when change appears to be everywhere, when the river of change is in spate, it does not mean that danger is everywhere or that it cannot be overcome. In such circumstances, it is necessary to recognise danger before one can overcome it. This has increasingly profound meaning in a time such as ours…..
The oracle says that to recognise danger one must believe in danger – believing in danger here means being careful, discerning, refining oneself, gathering strength and waiting for the proper time. In this way one can cope with danger – there is great development in this. In this way, the path of power, of fostering sincerity and great development, offered to us in the time of the Water Dragon is one of gaining good fortune by being correct, even in times of adversity and great change.
The great river is most dangerous, but, offers the highest possibilities for those who know how to enter it. The black pearl is a great treasure that can be found within. But, it is not always necessary to enter the waters to find it – when the time is not yet ripe cultivate the pearl and nurture strength within; when the time comes, advance in strength. Advancing in strength and nourishing it at the proper times, in accord with spirit, is how one can be in danger and yet cope with it, and how one can get out of danger. Such strength is beneficial wherever it goes.
There is an inner path within this path of power – it carries the meaning of restoring the sacred to Life. This path is open to all. It begins with ‘making good the shrines’, cultivating clarity and coming to the meeting place of spirit and the mundane with sincerity to make offerings to spirit – what you give will depend on your own inner clarity and sincerity, however, making offerings now from such a place will not fail to bring illumination from source, even if this itself is the nature of the offering, the spirit with which it is made………great indeed are the gifts that may arise from within the Water Dragon’s path of power. May you be blessed with its power and illumination…..
(1) the I Ching was primarily consulted for this reading using the Thomas Cleary translation of ‘The Taoist I Ching’ : Shambala Publications, 1986. In the next Water Dragon article we will look further into the mysteries of the Dragon Paths as they are revealed through the tracks left by the ancestors.