Each of us has at some time in our lives had the experience we call “being in the flow.” Sometimes this is a superficial thing; just having a good day. But at its deepest level, it is an experience of being in harmony with the deep Way, whatever name we might give to that. This is not necessarily the same as having a lucky day (think of Harry Potter and the felix felicis,) and not necessarily the same as going along with the flow of the culture around you; in fact, sometimes it’s contrary to that.
Think of the difference between the current beneath and the waves on top of water. If we live at a shallow level, we will always be tossed about by those waves, but if we enter more deeply into the water of life, and let go of imposing our own ideas about where the journey should take us, we can swim with the current rather than struggling against it; what a friend of mine calls “effortless effort.”
As Irish poet and writer John O’Donohue put it: “I would love to live like a river flows, carried by the surprise of its own unfolding.
I was fortunate to spend a week this summer on a retreat with Brother David Steindl-Rast and Paul Haller at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center. This piece of art was inspired by a conversation our group had about “flow.” It was also highly experimental, and outside my usual comfort zone of pattern-driven and geometric art. It was an interesting experience to see where the materials of wall-texturing plaster and watercolor would take me.