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The Power of Water, Part 1
by Michael Berman
Editor's Note from Michael Williams: In this month's offering, storyteller Michael Berman turns to the “power of water”. Using quotes from a variety of sources, he suggests questions which teachers and trainers can use to stimulate discussion about the ebb and flow of life on our planet. A useful warm-up or stand-alone exercise.
“In an age when man has forgotten his origins and is blind even to his most essential needs for survival, water along with other resources has become the victim of his indifference.” ~ Rachel Carson.
Invite your learners to each pick three questions that interest them to ask the person they are sitting next to, and then to report back what they find out to the rest of the class:
Quote: “Water, air, and cleanness are the chief articles in my pharmacy.” ~ Napoleon Bonaparte.
Question: What do you always keep in your medicine cabinet?
Quote: “Rivers, ponds, lakes and streams - they all have different names, but they all contain water. Just as religions do - they all contain truths.” ~ Muhammad Ali.
Question: Do all religions contain truths or is there only one truth – what do you think?
Quote: “The man who never alters his opinions is like standing water, and breeds reptiles of the mind.” ~ William Blake.
Question: How open to new ideas would you say you are?
Quote: “Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.” ~ W. H. Auden.
Question: Apart from water, what else do you think people need in order to live?
Quote: “Filthy water cannot be washed.” ~ African Proverb.
Question: What do you understand this proverb to mean?
Quote: “A sincere diplomat is like dry water or wooden iron.” ~ Joseph Stalin.
Question: Do diplomats need to be insincere to be good at their jobs – what do you think?
Quote: “The only cure for seasickness is to sit on the shady side of an old brick church in the country.” ~ Author Unknown.
Question: What cures for seasickness do you recommend?
Quote: “I hate to be near the sea, and to hear it raging and roaring like a wild beast in its den. It puts me in mind of the everlasting efforts of the human mind, struggling to be free and ending just where it began.” ~ William Hazlitt.
Question: Where would you prefer to live, and why – by the sea or in the country?
Quote: “Flattery is like cologne water, to be smelt, not swallowed.” ~ Josh Billings.
Question: What kind of effect does flattery have on you?
Quote: “One cannot reflect in streaming water. Only those who know internal peace can give it to others.” ~ Lao Tzu.
Question: How do you find internal peace?
Quote: “You can't cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water.” ~ Rabindranath Tagore.
Question: In other words, actions speak louder than words. But how good are you at putting this belief into practice?
Quote: “For true love is inexhaustible; the more you give, the more you have. And if you go to draw at the true fountainhead, the more water you draw, the more abundant is its flow.” ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery.
Question: Is this always the way things work in life – what has your experience been?
Quote: “Here lies one whose name was writ in water.” ~ John Keats.
Question: What would you like to be remembered for when you die?
Quote: “It is with our passions as it is with fire and water; they are good servants, but bad masters.” ~ Aesop.
Question: In what ways can water be a bad master – give some examples?
Quote: “The sea pronounces something, over and over, in a hoarse whisper; I cannot quite make it out.” ~ Annie Dillard.
Question: What does the sea say to you?
Quote: “If you must speak ill of another, do not speak it, write it in the sand near the water's edge.” ~ Napoleon Hill.
Question: How good are you at keeping your thoughts to yourself?
Quote: “To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don't grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float.” ~ Alan Watts.
Question: To what extent do you trust yourself?
Quote: “The work an unknown good man has done is like a vein of water flowing hidden underground, secretly making the ground green.” ~ Thomas Carlyle.
Question: Who do you know who has done a lot of good, but remains unknown?
Next month, we'll offer more of Michael's inspirations drawn from from the element of water, including a Chinese parable which demonstrates how a single tear can move a mountain.
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About the Author
Michael Berman is a teacher, a writer and a Core Shamanic Counsellor. Michael's published work includes The Power of Metaphor for Crown House, The Nature of Shamanism and the Shamanic Story for Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Shamanic Journeys through the Caucasus and Shamanic Journeys, Shamanic Stories for O-Books, Journeys outside Time for Pendraig Publishing, and Tales of Power for Lear Books. A Bridge to the Other Side: Death in the Folk Tradition and Georgia through Earth, Fire, Air and Water are both due to be published by Moon Books in 2012. For more information please visit www.thestoryteller.org.uk.