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Waterfall Symbolism


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#1 spyro

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Posted 28 January - 06:19 PM

Waterfalls are one of the basic motifs of Chinese landscape painting, from such painters of the
T'ang Dynasty as Wu Tao-tzu and Wang Wei, to those of the Sung Dynasty. In basic pairings,
the waterfall contrasts with the rock, MOUNTAIN and WATER, and yin and yang.

The downward movement of water alternates with the upward movement of the mountain,
the dynamism of the waterful with the static properties of the rock. It is, and this coincides
with the teachings of C'an (Zen) Buddhism, the symbol of impermanence as opposed to changelessness.

The waterfall persists as an entity, but is never the same.

The ancient Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, had already noted this in the phenomenon of the stream.
Obserrving that in the same river it is never the same water flowing past, he provided the basis of the
theories of the continuos evolution of beings and of the paradox of thought which claims to fix through
rigid definition what is fluid. The drops of water which make up the waterfull are renewed each second, just like,
according to Buddhism, the purely illusory components of manifestation.

The downward movement of the waterfall carries the same meaning as the downward direction
of heavinly activity, deriving from the still centre, the Immutable, and displaying its infinite potentiality.
Still water would provide the image of motionless latency from which all manifestations derive and to which they
will ultimately return. Thus Wang Wei painted his waterfall with a hanging cloud of spray,
a cloud which floats and from which water comes, the gleaming liquid spray passing and vanishing.

Waterfalls are also unharnessed elemental motion, the force-fields which one needs to master and control
to one's spiritual benefit, something akin to the concerns of Tantrism.

This symbol is also that of permanence of form despite change of content. Mme Liliane Brion-Guerry observes that
by a species of inner vision 'beyond the natural appearance of the waterfall, its symbolic meaning may
be discovered as an emblem of continuous motion, and emblem of the world in which the elements change ceaselessly
while its shape remains the same.'

The Penguin Dictionary of Symbols.

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"My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind. Albert Einstein

#2 spyro

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Posted 17 March - 02:37 AM

"Water is the symbol of unconscious energy,
the formless powers of the soul of hidden and unrecognized motivation.
Water, symbol of what is unconscious of itself, holds the contents of the soul
which the fisherman tries to bring to the surface and which should be his food.
The fish is a creature of the psyche."

Aeppli, Ernest, Les Reves et Leur Interpretation, Paris, 1951

"My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind. Albert Einstein