Wisdom in the Round


 from Seeds for the Soul by Chuck Hillig


The truth of who you really are is often hiding in plain sight. The cosmic clues are really everywhere: in music, books, paintings, movies, poems, songs, plays, sculpture, photographs, etc.

 Your very best clues to this profound wisdom, however, are sometimes hidden in the unlikeliest of places.


For example, do you think that you could ever write something that would be the perfect expression of the greatest wisdom, i.e. the very quintessential core of reality, itself? Then, in that same description, could you also include the most practical way of living out your day-to-day existence in the light of such an awe-some Truth? 

One more condition: Could you also please limit your summary of these profound teachings…both spiritual and psychological…to only eighteen common words?

 That’s right: only 18 simple words!


Give up? Well, relax because someone else has already done it for you. In fact, you already know these 18 words because they’ve been a part of your American heritage since you were a kid.  

Remember some of the campfire songs that you used to sing as a “round?” One of the old classics was “Row, row, row your boat.”

  Well, I contend that this simple little ditty describes not only the ultimate “Truth of the Universe,” but that it also gives very practical advice about how to live your life out in the face of that Reality.


For those of you who were raised in another country, the words to this little campfire song go like this: 

“Row, row, row your boat,

 Gently down the stream,

 Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,

 Life is but a dream.”


In the first line, the song implies that you’re making some kind of journey over water in “…your boat.” Most importantly, however, the line begins by repeating the very same word (“Row, row, row…”) three times and reminding you that, on this journey, you’ll need to expend energy, persistence and ongoing effort.


In the second line, however, the song implies that you shouldn’t really be “pushing the river.” Instead, it suggests that you should be performing all of this rowing activity very “gently.”  Not with anger or resistance or by using brute force, but “gently” which means, according to the dictionary, with an “easy grace” and with both “courtesy and kindness.”


The second part of the line reminds you that, while you’re gently rowing along, your boat is still headed in a particular direction, specifically “downstream.” It doesn’t suggest that you could go against the current or even across it. Instead, the line implies that, inexorably, (and, like it or not) your boat is still going to go “…down the stream.”

 And, since it’s carrying you along some predetermined route, (the stream bed, itself), there’s no reason to struggle against where it’s taking you. So, the first two lines of the song suggest that you definitely need to make an ongoing effort on your own behalf (“Row, row, row…”), but, on the other hand, you also need to be willing to surrender to the inevitability of the whole process.


Now the third line is really the key: it tells you not only how you should perform all of this “rowing” but what you need to be feeling in your heart while you’re doing it. The song suggests, quite frankly, that you should be “merry” that is, “happy” and “joyous.” Not only does it say “merrily” once, but, for greater emphasis (and to make sure that you really get the point), this same word is repeated a total of four separate times. 

In exhorting you to be “merry” as you’re rowing “gently down the stream,” the song implies that your attitude and behavior should be full of “fun and laughter,” “festive” and even “celebratory.”


The big punch line, of course, comes in the last five words: “Life is but a dream.” At the end, it seems, none of it has ever been “real.” There never was either a “real” boat or a “real” passenger. There wasn’t any water and there wasn’t any actual journeying down a stream to some final destination.


The last line plainly suggests, instead, that ALL of it…boat, passenger, water and the journey…has only been a manifestation of Maya…the Great Illusion.

 Amazingly, this same core Truth about the illusory nature of the universe has been spoken of for centuries by the cross-cultural Perennial philosophy.


Isn’t it absolutely incredible that such profound wisdom could be successfully distilled into only 18 simple words, and that it’s now become cleverly disguised as a simple little ditty that’s sung with friends around a campfire?


And isn’t it ironic that it took me 772 words to remind you about it?

Chuck Hillig is a modern spiritual teacher, author and licensed psycho-therapist whose clarity of expression has earned him the admiration and praise of many notable writers and lecturers in this area.  
Chuck writes personally and directly about the essence of non-dual spirituality and presents its astonishing truths to the average reader in ways that are totally unique, completely accessible and absolutely life-changing. Using his studies in both eastern philosophy and western psychology, Chuck’s “Enlightenment Quartet” presents a worldview that shows his readers how to fully live a truly enlightened and authentic life in the 21st Century by waking up to who they really are.


You can buy Chuck’s book Seeds for the Soul here

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