The Ocean-Controller (A story about the fear-mind)
Updated: Feb 2
Here’s a story about a child who believes he has to control the ocean…
Imagine a small child at the edge of the ocean. He is told that he is in charge of the waves. He is told that by the motion of his hands he must move the water this way and that way to create the rolling waves.
With this expectation placed on him, the child quickly learns to anticipate the motion of the waves by learning about different factors, like the effects of the wind and clouds, and the moon’s position, and he looks out into the distance to see how the water is moving over there to know what might happen closer to where he is, at the shore.
Then with lots of practice, the child begins to enact movements that make it look as though he is in charge of the waves. It appears to work quite a lot of the time, because he has worked hard at becoming so attuned to the factors that help him know how to move to make it look as if he is moving the waves.
Eventually, even he begins to believe that he really is in charge.
But sometimes, he stands perfectly still and the waves keep moving. Sometimes, what he anticipates ends up being completely off. This jolts him and makes him afraid of being an ocean controller. He feels inadequate and afraid that others will find out he is not a good ocean controller.
Luckily, for now, everyone else is too concerned about their jobs controlling their portions of the ocean, so they don’t appear to notice his faltering.
Still, the child is frightened because he looks around and sees everyone else being able to control their waves. What if he’s the only one who can’t? Maybe no one will love him because they’ll find out he’s such a terrible ocean controller, and everyone’s always telling him, ‘We love you—you’re such a good ocean controller!’ He doesn't want to lose that love.
So the child begins to realize he must cover up the fact that he’s not really sure if he can control the ocean at all, and he never lets on.
He becomes so weak from feeling terrible about himself, and spends his life thinking that the ocean will swallow him whole one of these days, and then everyone will know how terrible he really was.
There is another side to this, though. On a day when the child’s arms become so tired that he can only stand there, limply watching everything—the moon, the waves, the horizon—he begins to feel something, somewhere deep inside of him, a different kind of sensation that takes place very far from his tired arms.
He stands there and begins to feel moved by the ocean. It is as though he somehow knows how to move to the rhythm of the ocean, as though a part of him is made of the ocean. The waves move inside him. He doesn’t have to tell the ocean what to do. He begins to relax and enjoy being part of the ocean. And the most wonderful thing of it is that the ocean calls to him, wanting to connect with him, wanting him to feel the joy of belonging to something so beautiful and strong.
We have all had that experience of feeling moved, of knowing that we are part of something bigger. It’s just that too often we dismiss it. We don’t see it for what it is because our fearful minds won’t allow it.
Are we going to worry about all of the other “ocean controllers” looking over and seeing that we are no longer doing the thing with our arms, trying to make it look like we’re ocean controllers?
More importantly are we going to let the child-like mind tell us that it really is in charge of the ocean? Or are we going to have the courage to tell the mind to relax for a moment. Maybe we can tell the mind that we appreciate it and that it is so useful—look at how the mind has taken the time to learn about all those factors and to make our arms move around like that for all this time!
But now, can we be honest with the mind and tell it that it really is not in charge of that ocean? And that in some incredible way, it is the ocean that’s giving us the ability to move! And maybe the mind and the arms will feel a sense of relief.
This is when we begin to see our magnificence and our potential because when we relax and surrender to the truth of the matter, we get to know about the ocean that exists all around us, and within us. We begin to flow with that rhythm that belongs to us, and to which we belong, the natural rhythm.
Why does it take courage to stand up to the mind and tell it the truth? Because the mind is going to bring up every fear it ever had concerning that truth, and it is such a clever mind, such a mighty instrument, that it will make you believe the fears just as strongly as you felt moved and connected to the ocean, and the mind will frighten you back into becoming an ocean controller.
And that’s the cycle—that is the struggle. It is very real. The fears of the mind can be paralyzing. They can be so frightening that some of us never even admit that the fears are there so that we don’t have to ever face the truth. Even if we don’t admit to them and don’t face up to them, they do affect us deeply. We can see this by looking at our world and all of the pain and hurt all around. We've created a lot of our world through the paradigm of the fear-mind.
When we begin to stand up and tell the mind the truth, the mind starts to yell and throw all of its fears at us. That’s why it takes courage. It takes the courage of a mighty ocean. And isn't it lucky that the ocean is exactly what we have inside us? It's as if we were made for this struggle.