About a year ago I was in Rishikesh, India with a friend of mine. He’s a Brahmin, and when we were on the banks of the Ganges, he had to wade out into the river to say a mantra and make an offering to his ancestors. In that offering, he took the water of the river into his hands and offered it, pouring it back into the river.
That offering is an analogy for our lives. Taking water from the river and pouring it back into the river, thinking that you are making an offering, is the kind of egotistical thing that human beings do. The water is the water of the river to begin with, and in the middle and the end. There’s no place it was ever going but the river.
The water in our bodies is the water of the river. Each of the elements that compose the container for this water was created in a star farther away than our eyes can see, a few billion years before our sun came into being. The elements of our body are not ours, and billions of years after we’re gone these elements will remain.
The only thing that is really our own is our complete connectedness to the ultimate reality, the pure, fine, vibrant silence–the rich and joyous silence of the core of our being. Silence that is uncreated and unceasing. Silence that was there before the universe and will be there after the universe is gone. That silence is pure being, pure consciousness, the very essence of all phenomena and life itself. That’s our own. Everything else we are going to give back. It’s impossible that the water that our bodies contain won’t pour itself back into the ocean of life.