How to Live Like Water



Water is life as life revolves around water, the element that sustains it. Just as our home planet more than half of our bodies are made up of water. Not only is it all around us but also inside of us. And not only has it been a source of life but also a source on the way of life as seen through the observations of great people of the past and present. Below are the various perspectives on water, how they are linked together and how they can help us not only survive but thrive. 

Lao Tzu, one of the most referenced Chinese philosopher and poet, rhythmically analogizes water with the highest good in his classical work, Tao Te Ching. He speaks of water, as a humble all-giving entity. The philosopher uses the water example by comparing its nature to that of humans. He illustrates the qualities and characteristics of water, focusing on, how water never competes or contends with anyone. It interacts with every living being on earth it comes in contact with. It is the life source for all the

It interacts with every living being on earth it comes in contact with. It is the life source for all the life on Earth. It the highest form of good there is. As it benefits every other creature without ever asking for anything in return, and despite all its greatness it willingly settles where no one would like to- sometimes in the lowest pits, or at the bottom of the Earth’s surface, in the cracks, corners, and dark places.


Highest good is like water. Because water excels in benefiting the myriad creatures without contending with them and settles where none would like to be, it comes close to the way…. It is because it does not contend that it is never at fault. 

Bruce Lee‘s timeless and deep insight on molding our being using water’s characteristics as the base is as empowering as it is a challenging feat to attain. Only a master of martial arts and life, can really come to such an understanding and live by it. Though bestowed upon him by his master and further elaborated by Lee through understanding Lao Tzu’s teachings, the legendary martial artist unquestioningly embodied these principles thus reaching such great heights in a short lifetime.


 Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves. Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend. 

Margaret Atwood conveys the prowess of water comparing it to a sentient creature. In her book The Penelopiad-a retelling of The Odyssey- Atwood, through her imaginative narrative emphasizes on the human values of patience, resilience, determination, strength, and how each one of those are perfectly embodied by this element called water.


Water does not resist. Water flows. When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress. Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it. Water is patient. Dripping water wears away a stone. Remember that, my child. Remember you are half water. If you can’t go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does.

David Foster Wallace‘s compelling and uncompromising commencement speechThe majestic yet humble manner in which he uses water- a simple liquid- to portray the immense complexity behind the most obvious aspects of our daily lives. How the truth that lies in front of us, deludes us, not due to its nature, but due to ours, the narrow-minded one, which has only the self at its center.

Water, here, signifies Our reality which we overlook or often fail to see clearly, because of Our ‘default setting’, which is Our conditioned thinking that we, over a period of time, slide into without knowing. As a fish in the pond, we swim our entire lives not knowing what water is or that we are surrounded by it in every single moment.

use this water, not only to quench your thirst or simply to survive but to learn, to live.

Submerged in the world constructed by other fishes that have been here before us, we swim along the same streams, unquestioningly, unknowingly, losing control of our own reality. We begin living a numbing routine (our work lives, our personal lives, like a treadmill set to a fixed program) and these patterns are hammered into us as we repeat them day in and day out as we move from our colleges into our own families and then next, without ever taking the time to see the truth- one that is always present in front of us.

So, in order to live in this adult world and yet not live by it – not giving in to power, vanity, fear, anger, frustration, greed and all the sugar-coated niceties presented alongside it- be conscious, choose what to think.

This is how David Foster Wallace emphasizes the real value of education –


It is about the real value of a real education, which has almost nothing to do with knowledge, and everything to do with simple awareness; awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, all the time, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over: “This is water.”  “This is water.” It is unimaginably hard to do this, to stay conscious and alive in the adult world day in and day out. Which means yet another grand cliché turns out to be true: your education really IS the job of a lifetime. And it commences: now.

So use this water, not only to quench your thirst or simply to survive but to learn, to live.

This post was inspired by Wandering Mirages recent post shown below:

Water does not resist. Water flows. When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress. Water is not a solid…

Posted by Wandering Mirages on Monday, 5 January 2015

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