What is your water? A fish story

This is one of my favorite teaching stories.

Once upon a time, a fish wandered outside his school. He was near the shore, and he heard voices talking. They kept mentioning the word “water”.

The fish had never heard this word before. Wah-ter. Water. He didn’t know what it meant.

He returned to his school and began asking the other fish, “Do you know what ‘water’ is?” No one knew.

The fish just couldn’t let it go. Surely someone must know. When his school encountered other schools, he asked the other school’s fish if they knew what ‘water’ is.

No one knew.

The fish grew up and realized his mission in life was to find out about ‘water’. He left home and swam far and wide, asking the many creatures he encountered what they knew about ‘water’.

In old age, with a long fishy beard and glasses, the fish returned to the school of his origin. A couple of other old fish noticed him and asked, “Say, aren’t you the fish who left in search of something called ‘water’?”

“Yes, I am,” the old fish replied.

“Well, tell us! Did you ever find out what ‘water’ is?” they asked.

“Yes, I did,” the old fish responded.

“Well, what is it? What is this ‘water’?” the fish eagerly asked.

The old fish looked at them and answered, “If I told you what water is, you simply wouldn’t believe it.”

Water. Love. Abundance. Presence. Peace. Wholeness. Flow.

What is your water? What have you been searching for that is there all along?

The interesting thing is, we need news of difference to notice anything. News of difference can come as something “new” that we haven’t encountered before, or it can come from refining our ability to notice — notice what’s already there that you didn’t notice before. Notice what’s always been there that you never noticed before.

Meditation — seeking the silence and space and presence within — is a path to noticing what you didn’t notice before. Shedding light on darkness. Enlightening.


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