The other day in yoga class the instructor played a song that had a spoken mantra which was “the ocean accepts all rivers.” I found the mantra to be so calming and soothing that it really put me into a great yoga trance. You see, during this practice I was very much wanting some affirmation for the many changes I have initiated over the last year in my life. When I heard “the ocean accepts all rivers” I interpreted it to mean “you are the sum of your experiences.” Meaning that I could not be the me (the ocean) that I am today if I didn’t have all the life experiences (the rivers) that I have had flowing into me. It meant that every experience is useful because it shapes who you are, and that you can’t grow and learn without having “positive” as well as “negative” experiences. Experiences are all just learning and evolution, there’s no need to judge it or over analyze it. If you can find the lesson in everything, then it was worth going through because it is all a part of life, a part of who you are…it is what makes up your ocean.
So imagine my surprise when I asked my husband what he thought that expression meant. He said “Universal love. The ocean is not judgmental, it accepts all who come to it.” Hhhhmm…that was surprising. I was so caught up in my own interpretation that I hadn’t imagined there could be another equally valid one! So then I threw it out to my Facebook friends, and here are some responses I received:
MA: All roads lead to Rome? There are many paths to Enlightenment?
CS: it is the differences amongst us all that unify us in the end
JL: …it feels intimate, sexual to me. First, the imagery–a vast and salty ocean opening for a river to flow into it. And the other thing is the word “accepts.” It’s feminine and welcoming but suggests taking something in. I realize that once I’m parsing words, it’s hard not to think of that word “all” without then turning this into some kind of orgiastic metaphor.
Clearly my friend JL is having all the fun!! But seriously, I’m always amazed to relearn the lesson that not everyone sees the world the same way as me. Of course I know this to be true in my heart, but when I’m in the moment-to-moment muck of living and interacting with another human, it’s so easy to forget. We can all take the same expression, experience, book, artwork, whatever and see it in completely different ways. That’s part of the beauty, and the challenge, of the human experience. Namaste.