Ebb and Flow

Willy Ph. Felthuis

The small pool between the rocks at the beach was a world in itself: all that was in it had been washed in there by the high tide — and for a short period it formed a small world, with peace and quietude, with battles and struggles. Bright green sea algae and brown weeds floated on the smooth surface — sometimes rippled by a bit of water flowing in or out. A broken mother-of-pearl shell on the bottom reflected the sunshine; the sea anemones were widely opened — sometimes an imperceptibly small particle seemed to touch one of their tentacles and they closed instantly, to open again after their meal.

In the middle resided the temporary king of this world — a hermit crab — hiding and protecting his weak parts in a once abandoned snailhouse. Time and again he came partly out of his home, carefully groping around, moving a bit now and then, undoubtedly looking for prey. When I moved my hand over the water, so that its shadow came in front of him, he was frightened and immediately withdrew to the safety of his shell.

I had to smile — the little world reminded me of our own world and lives. We live here, often thinking it the only way and the only place of existence, forgetting that there must be myriads of small pools like this where the high waves of life have swept us in, leaving us in a world of our own, where we have our experiences, struggles and joys. Often living like the sea anemones, passively waiting till something useful comes our way, sometimes, however, like the hermit crab exploring, thinking ourselves powerful and important and comfortably forgetting our weak parts hidden in a borrowed shell, we are enclosed by the rocks of illusion. We are frightened by the shadows of things and events of which we don't yet know, and sometimes a ripple from beyond stirs our world, causing sparks of light.

There we seem to forget that somewhere, and not too far away, is the roaring sea of life from which we came, embracing us all in its eternal ebb and flow, placing us according to our own tendencies and needs, in pools at the beach — for a short moment — only to wash us back into the ocean of life, again and again, until we shall know. . . .

(From Sunrise magazine, November 1953; copyright © 1953 Theosophical University Press)

Theosophical University Press Online Edition