Way-Seeking Mind

Let the River Reach the Lake

By Tanya E. E. E. Schmid

Horse sun

MY HUSBAND STUDIED horse-whispering. He said it involved doing as little as possible, remaining still and centered. He spoke to the horse with subtle cues and only when a change in its behavior was required, using a quick glance or a turn of his shoulder to achieve the necessary shift, not more.

He referred to it as natural horsemanship. It involved natural humor, natural effort, natural compassion. His hobby carried over into his daily life, relaxing his hands and steadying his gait. He made others feel comfortable. There was no show in his actions, no preparation. His decisions were spontaneous, direct from the source, like artesian waters.

When he worked with a horse, he had no expectations. He posed a question and the horse answered.

I studied Kyudo, Zen Archery. My Sensei would say, With one eye on the target, you are left with only one eye to find the Way.

The Way is not always clear. A busy life and great effort can muddy the water. When I had difficulty drawing my archery bow, Sensei would say, Let the river reach the lake. Let the water become still, then all the silt and sand will sink to the bottom and the water will become clear.

To go forward, we must become still. This awareness made my husband’s death easier for him. He was in the end stage of cancer when he chose the EXIT program near our home in Switzerland. He was never concerned with what came after. He just took the next step without expectation, until it was his last.

Existence is our training ground, our raging river. Whether or not we reach the lake before our final step is up to us.

About the Author

Tanya Elizabeth Egeness Epp Schmid, Doctor of Oriental Medicine, has taught Kyudo (Zen Archery) since 1995. When her husband died of cancer in 2019, she began to write full-time. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Canary Literary Magazine, Quail Bell Magazine, Adelaide Magazine and The Scarlet Leaf Review. She is the author of “Tanya’s Collection of Zen Stories” (2018).

3 thoughts on “Let the River Reach the Lake”

  1. This is beautiful. It must be hard to talk about the death of someone the author loved (and that’s very clear) so soon. Strangely – the writing had the effect of stilling me too…

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