Thursday, September 30, 2010

Water World: A parable for our times

Self-help books are the ones I usually ignore when scanning shelves of used books in junk/antique stores, but one lying alone on a table caught my eye because of its title: Pools of Lodging for the Moon by David K. Reynolds, Ph.D.

I half suspected it would be a poetry book. It isn't. Some of the book's contents are quite poetic though.

Dr. Reynolds has written several books describing his principles of "Constructive Living, a positive life-style that is a synthesis of two forms of Japanese psychotherapy: Morita and Naikan. The combination of Morita, with its emphasis on doing what needs to be done, and Naikan therapy, which stresses recognising our debt to the world around us, form a the basis for appealing solutions to our daily problems."(From the book's back cover).

I think there must be an astrological connection or equivalent to Naikan and Morita -perhaps something akin to what was discussed in yesterday's post and comments touching on the topic of higher consciousness.....Back to the astrological elements, and their balance within the personality then? Or perhaps there's similarity in considering the balancing "effect" of opposing signs eg: Leo/Aquarius, Cancer/Capricorn.

Anyway, what persuaded me to part with my $1 was this little "parable" which happened to be the first I saw when, standing in the store, I opened the book :
Water World

Once upon a fragile time people lived on the surface of a huge body of water. They walked on a thin film that covered the water's great depths. Sometimes the surface tension weakened in spots and someone began to sink. Those around the sinking person risked breeching the surface tension in order to rescue him or her. It was the custom. Such self-sacrifice was necessary in that world. When the rescuers were in danger they, too, could expect help.

Sometimes the tear in the surface film spread, there were whole chains of people lending a hand to their fellows. In that risky world it was good to know that supporting hands were ready to help when needed.

Nearby, another group of people lived on a small island. They were proud that each of them walked by the individual's own strength with no help or support from others. In other ways they were a very bright people. Yet because of their pride they were confined to their island. And they knew a chilly loneliness that their water-borne cousins never felt.

One of the part-truths in American culture is the part-myth of the self-made individual. That notion has both stimulated us and limited us. The other side of that truth is that we are all dependent on others for our successes and for our moment-by-moment existence.

My politically slanted brain read that wee tale as an analogy for socialism and conservatism/capitalism. Others might read it differently....if so it would be interesting to hear about it.


Wisewebwoman said...

No (wo)man is an island indeed.
What a marvellous book, T, you discover such interesting titles!
Any more nuggets in this?

Some said...

Venice is also made of water...

Astrology Unboxed said...


I saw it more in terms of religion. Catholics versus Protestants. Catholics putting more emphasis on the family, group and individuality is subordinated to the needs of the family, society and state. for example, it is still common for a women to live with her parents until she gets married even tough she has a career and could afford to live by herself.
On the other hand, protestants put emphasis on individual rights and children need to be independent as soon as possible. For example, if you are 18, you have to leave the house.
Having had the experience of both types of society emphasis, I can see the benefits from both. Although I must say that the emphasis on group does seems to provide more support, warmth and gregariousness. Individual rights, from my experience, leaves a bitter taste in your mouth. Great for developing your individuality and assertiveness. Not so great for companionship.

Anonymous said...

"The other side of the truth is that we all depend on others for our successes": How could it be otherwise? But we don't usually see that everything is interconnected.

Some wise but difficult "guru" said: give thanks to who opposes you. It's the only way you can progress. Unless you prefer to end your last days the way the Shah of Iran did.

Gian Paul said...

Astrology Unboxed/Fabienne: In an ideal, harmonious world family should be what you say, no matter of what religion. The cradle which prepares for empathy, love and understanding.

But these days, considering the great number of divorced parents, tough educational curriculums (money, money) and general impossibility to believe in "authorities", young people must feel quite lost to whatever wind or fashion/fad is blowing.

Twilight said...

WWW ~~~ There are more, yes. Maybe I'll return to it sometime - don't want to get into bother re copyright though. I think it'll be okay to use a couple of examples, as this is a not-for-profit blog.

Twilight said...

Some ~~~~ It is indeed - though we are not required to walk upon it - luckily. :-)

Twilight said...

Astrology Unboxed/Fabienne~~~

Hmmm - yes, that is an alternative take. The culture of different (real) countries, generally, too might be another way to interpret the story.

Twilight said...

Anonymous ~~~ I see what you mean.
Opposition can provide a kind of dynamic tension that forces action.

I think that could be a subject for a different parable though.

Twilight said...

Gian Paul ~~~ Agreed, it's a different world. Family and culture has changed a lot in the last 3 decades. I think that, in the USA for example, there was more feeling of the first Water World example of wanting everyone to have assistance when needed than there is now....FDR's way was getting there, but the path got lost somewhere.

R J Adams said...

I agree with you, Twilight, though on reading the piece my mind immediately saw America as the island:

"They were proud that each of them walked by the individual's own strength with no help or support from others. In other ways they were a very bright people. Yet because of their pride they were confined to their island. And they knew a chilly loneliness that their water-borne cousins never felt."

Most Americans never leave their 'island', unless it's to vacation in Mexico or Canada. Much of the rest of the world is united, but because of its pride, America stands alone; an 'island', indeed.

Twilight said...

RJ Adams ~~~ Yes, that is what the author had in mind too, according to his last lines - that the USA is akin to an island society, in spite of its size. The book was published in 1989 by the way.

Politically, the US has never been a haven of social reform for long, there have been a few tries to get onto that road, or into a more Water World scenario, but always eventually attempts have been assassination, persuasion, bribery, whatever.

There might be material for another parable there RJ - how about it?