Waking up to Wisdom
In Stillness and Community

Gift from the Sea

--by Anne Morrow Lindberg (Jan 07, 2013)

The beach is not the place to work; to read, write, or think. I should have remembered that from other years. Too warm, too damp, too soft for any real mental discipline or sharp flights of spirit. One never learns. Hopefully, one carries down that faded straw bag, lumpy with books, clean paper, long over-due unanswered letters, freshly sharpened pencils, lists, and good intentions. The books remain unread, the pencils break their points, and the pads rest smooth and unblemished as the cloudless sky. No reading, no writing, no thoughts even – at least, not at first.

At first, the tired body takes over completely. As on shipboard, one descends into a deck-chair apathy. One is forced against one’s mind, against all tidy resolutions, back into the primeval rhythms of the sea-shore. Rollers on the beach, wind in the pines, the slow flapping of herons across sand dunes, drown out the hectic rhythms of city and suburb, time tables and schedules. One falls under their spell, relaxes, stretches out prone. One becomes, in fact, like the element on which one lies, flattened by the sea; bare, open, empty as the beach, erased by today’s tides of all yesterday’s scribblings.

And then, some morning in the second week, the mind wakes, comes to life again. Not in a city sense – no—but beach-wise. It begins to drift, to play, to turn over in gentle careless rolls like those lazy waves on the beach. One never knows what chance treasures these easy unconscious rollers may toss up, on the smooth white sand of the conscious mind; what perfectly rounded stone, what rare shell from the ocean floor. Perhaps a channeled whelk, a moon shell, or even an argonaut.

But it must not be sought for or – heaven forbid! – dug for. No, no dredging of the sea-bottom here. That would defeat one’s purpose. The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach – waiting for a gift from the sea.

-- Anne Morrow Lindberg from "Gift from the Sea"

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Previous Reflections:

On Jan 4, 2013 Kokil wrote:
 Ever since I have got onto the path of Self Introspection it has been quite a journey in the last 3 years. The struggles are many even today as I move in and out of being assertive, giving, receiving, being compassionate and loving, letting go off my anger yet displaying it if that is the need of the hour. Many a times I could see that people were walking all over me simply because I was providing a space of acceptance to them irrespective of their attitudes and behaviors. Last month I was in Mumbai and got to spend some time with my mentor. My first question to him was ' Is there a way out of this path? I sometimes feel my earlier self would have handled things better and put people in their place not bearing all the insults that now people easily hurl at me.' . There were many others reasons why I asked that question and I was given a one word answer which was a clear 'NO'. This was an experience of 'Choicelessness' though I do understand that the true gifts emerge only with patience and endurance and at a time when you are least or not expecting it at all. This passage also reminds me of a 'Gurukul' system that prevailed wherein the time spent by each student was basis their journey and not as per the schooling system we now have. I yearn for such a system today as that is similar to lying choiceless waiting for the gift to emerge when it has to.

On Jan 4, 2013 Conrad P Pritscher wrote:
 This piece reminded me that there is nothing to know, nothing to attain, and nothing to realize.  It reminded me  that  patient ordinary living is no different from enlightenment or holiness.  Holiness is wholeness in that we already are and have everything.  One's desire for more is what causes suffering.  I interpret "faith" is that which I have said above.  I strongly believe it but frequently forget and do not practice  that so desires arise.  I know that these  desires are the cause of my suffering yet I frequently forget and desire.  I even have the desire not to desire which I frequently forget is itself a desire.   My experience with noticing my noticing as I am noticing helps me experience patience and choicelesness,  Yet somehow, deep down I still believe I can choose to be patient  and choiceless.  Patience is peaceful and as Gandhi said: "there is no way to peace.  Peace is the way."

On Jan 5, 2013 david doane wrote:
To me, lying "choiceless as a beach - waiting for a gift from the sea" means to be goalless, purposeless, simply open to and allowing of whatever emerges.  It is mindfulness.  I interpret "faith" as allowing and trusting life as it is, on its terms, which means accepting not knowing what the emerging moment or wave is bringing.  There is no knowing what will happen.  Faith also means being responsive to the surprise of the moment, not trying to control or manufacture or manipulate it, but riding the present moment like riding a wave.  Faith is living in and trusting the process and not trying to make a certain outcome happen.  Lin Yu t'ang said, "If you spend a perfectly useless afternoon in a perfectly useless manner, you have learned how to live."  The moments I spend like that, either by myself or with another, are the best. 

On Jan 7, 2013 Laurie wrote:
 Thank you for this. My Great-Aunt gave me Ann Morrow Lindberg's Gift From the Sea on my 13th birthday, 1963.
I can only now fully appreciate the Beauty of that Gift. Faith to me is an inner knowing, a trusting that All is truly well and will unfold perfectly for me. Faith is being in the moment, Being Here Now and being open to all possibilities and knowing that anything is possible.

On Jan 8, 2013 Chris van Breen wrote:
 I'm possibly misunderstanding the author. I seek health. Personal, physical, spiritual health. But also and inseparable the health of society and our brother and sister fellow animals.  I feel I must strive to learn more about justice and oppression so that I may further one and work against the other.  

Being beach wise and letting nature fill you with its serenity, beauty, storms, and shaking earth. Can be relaxing and rewarding and I enjoy it.  But why should we not strive? Or is it peace that we should not strive for, that you can't get inner peace while striving for it. But how can any of us be free while another of us is enslaved?  As I said maybe I am misunderstanding the author.

On Jan 8, 2013 Chris wrote:
 For me a gift from the sea is something wonderful and unexpected

On Jan 8, 2013 Maria wrote:
 It's no wonder I struggle with the corporate life. I try and spend as much time as I can on the beach and it's tough shift from the Job to the beach.  I would rather be on the beach the whole time...But I do want to strive, to attain, to be great at my job.  The beach does make you yearn for a more gentle life. I guess I can have both? But does the beach make me lose my edge? I listened to this audio whilst at my desk at work and now am now filled with questions. Great peice though x

On Jan 8, 2013 Maria wrote:
 It sure is Chris, I am forever finding wonderful bits of driftwood and seaglass (even a sea marble once) and I make something beautiful with them again.

On Jan 8, 2013 Narendra wrote:
 What does lying "choice-less on a beach - waiting for a gift from the sea" mean to you?  It means being clear-minded and aware enough to connect to higher consciousness and be inspired. A beach or any natural beauty of a mountain or a sky can overwhelm our ego and makes us contemplative and ready for communion with nature. In this state it is possible to access profound information from common consciousness or the so-called ‘Akashik’ records. This is the same source of information that the yogis, genius, savants and some autistics receive their unique ‘gift’.  This is also the source of inspiration for poets, artists and even some scientists. How do you interpret "faith?"  Faith is belief in the wisdom of our own higher consciousness, to guide us in our lives, without the interference of our conscious and subconscious mind. It is an effort to go beyond the intellect of our ego and emotions of our subconscious/soul to access the wisdom of common consciousness through love and devotion. Can you share a personal story that brings out your experience with choice-less-ness? There are two states of choice-less-ness. One takes me to dullness and the second to higher consciousness. The first is natural and the second requires self-effort, love and discipline. Love makes extraordinary effort peaceful and enjoyable. When I make an extraordinary effort (Tapas) in search of a result and than let go for while, in peaceful meditation or even sleep (‘to erase yesterdays scribbling’), I can find surprising solutions to my challenges. If the goal is unselfish, this self-effort works even better. With effort, love and awareness, I will have cut through the limits of conscious and subconscious to create a pointer to access the network of common consciousness. Without this pointer access, a peaceful beach, a mountain or a sky can at best give us the gift of a peaceful sleep.

On Jan 8, 2013 Thierry wrote:
A jolly breeze and sweet sailing to all. 

On Jan 8, 2013 aj wrote:
 "The beach" would be choiceless because it is not capable choosing.  The sand, shell, stone, wood found on a beach are where they are because nature's "forces" (wind, water, waves,ect.) move them about and constantly change them.  People, lying on a beach, have the choice how to use this time.  
Personal sharing:  When I am at the lake with my family, I sometimes "choose" to sit at the end of the dock in my lounge chair (in hope no one will follow me out there) to read, to pray, to think, to simply be ('as a beach'), to sleep, to have the sound of the wind take the world away, to have the waves move me (if I'm out on the raft), to be rocked like a babe within it's mum's womb  . . . to write!
For a time, it's good to let nature have it's way with me.  When "as a beach", I have no responsibilities, attachments . . . I am free.  Kind of cool!  
Nature saying, "Rest for awhile with me."            

On Jan 8, 2013 Rekha Garg wrote:
 I think the idea here is in conformity with the law of karma - its the ocean of karma from which we get gifts of all kinds and we have no choice now. In the current state we just have no way of knowing our past accumulated karma and what is coming our way next. We just have to have faith in the system. All we can do is wait and see while staying on our path. Staying calm and still will make accepting what comes forth, easy! Also this state will probably lead us into the intricacies of our eternal memory and bring peace. Fighting or digging for treasures may not bring what our heart desires right now. It is more important to enjoy and focus on the journey than waste our time waiting for the destination.
We do not choose most anything in life. Its just that when things turn our the way we wanted, we have more faith in God and when they don't, that's not the God you want to believe in. What you believe currently or not does not change the fact that there is a universal power who runs this world. When you look at nature and the rules with which it operates, you have to have faith in an entity who is responsible for all this. The real Me has to reconnect with that God  and that's all there is to it.

On Jan 9, 2013 Ganoba wrote:
 In nature there is always a balance between the opposing forces; pushing-pulling, attraction-repulsion, movement=stasis, change-permanence..... Nature is also to be taken as a whole.
Because of our tendency to choose and to take it in parts we come up with conclusions that don't quite hold. such is the case in this piece.
All nature provides opportunities to realise the truth, its beauty and its healing power; not just the beach. In nature being active and being passive are both acceptable. There are times when the water is turbulant and the sand is pliable. at other times the opposite picture can be seen.
To accept our nature in its wholeness we need to give up the right to choose, which is the same as giving up being judgmental.

On Jan 9, 2013 amy wrote:
 My uncle, upon returning from war (in the the 60s) had difficulty readjusting to life.  He didn't have a job, he had no money, (he had a father unwilling to even loan him a few bucks) . . . he had little in terms of faith and personal friendships . . . received "a gift from the sea".  In this troubled time, he spent a lot of time walking the shores of Lake Michigan trying to "find a way" . . . to "find himself".  Without the love, guidance and support of a father (earthly) and Father (heavenly), this 'discovery' was made in time/thru nature.  In his time outdoors (because I understand he was without shelter, by choice, for a time) he began collecting things he'd find in nature.  When his rock and driftwood collection became quite sizable, he began making beautiful furniture creations . . . which lead to opening up a little shop to sell his works (Sister Bay, Door County) . . . which lead to sleeping in his own bed . . . under a  true roof . . . which lead to his meeting people and ultimately, my aunt!  
In seeking himself, he received "gifts from the sea" (lake) . . . and a Father in Heaven to assist him in using "His gifts".       Absolutely, free!          

On Feb 4, 2013 Peace wrote:
I went in for an hour of silence before reading this passage. Silence , I said to myself means silence of creating new thoughts, judgements, or imaginations. Silence shall mean just receiving, listening and accepting as it is. No desire for coming out of the posture due to pain in leg or even using the time most effectively etc. Just let it be silence of senses and head.

It was a great feeling indeed, I got peaceful with trying this practice of silence, though not perfectly.

The passage gave me exactly similar message. Accept, keep patience, and have faith, be silent and there shall be beautiful gifts pouring out , just what you need.

Thanks for the enlightenment through passage and comments..