A stream, from its source in the far-off mountains, passing through every kind and description of countryside, at last reached the sands of the desert. Just as it had crossed every other barrier, the stream tried to cross this one, but found that as it ran into the sand, its waters disappeared.
It was convinced, however, that its destiny was to cross the desert. Yet there appeared no way to go ahead. Now, a voice springing up from the desert, whispered, “The wind crosses the desert, so can the stream.”
The stream protested. It said that it was flowing onto the sand, but getting absorbed; whereas the wind could fly, which was why it could cross the desert.
The voice answered: “Yes, by flowing in your accustomed way you cannot cross the desert. You will either disappear or turn into a marsh. You must allow the wind to carry you over to your destition.”
“But how can this happen?”
“By allowing yourself to be absorbed by the wind.”
The stream found this ucceptable. In all its journey before this point, it had never been absorbed. Why should it lose its individuality now? And where was the certainty that having once lost its individuality, it could ever be regained?
“The wind,” assured the voice, “performs this function. It takes up water, carries it over the desert and lets it fall down as rain. The water again becomes a river.”
“How can I know that this is true?”
“It is so. If you do not believe it, you cannot become more than a quagmire. Even that could take many, many years. And surely that will not be the same as a stream.”
“But can I not remain the same stream that I am today?”
“You cannot in either case remain so,” explained the voice, “Your essential part is carried away and forms a stream again. It is just that you do not know which part of you is the essential one.”
When he heard this, certain echoes began to arise in the thoughts of the stream. Dimly, he remembered a state in which he, or some part of him, had been held in the arms of the wind long, long ago. He also remembered — or did he? — that it was the real thing, but not necessarily obvious.
So the stream now raised its vapors into the welcoming arms of the wind, which gently and easily bore it upwards and along, letting it fall softly as soon as they reached the roof of a mountain, far, far away.
And because it had had its doubts, the stream was able to remember and record more strongly the experience this time around.
It reflected, “Yes, now I have divined my true identity.” The stream was beginning to learn.
The sands whispered knowingly, “We see this happen day after day. After all, it is we, the sands, who extend from the riverside all the way to the mountain.”
That is why it is said that the way in which the stream of life is to continue on its journey is written in the sands.
- the harbinger