Can fishing be a metaphor for life?
It’s a given that you go fishing to catch fish. You don’t go fishing to see the scenery or to prepare your tackle.
With life you can tell yourself all sorts of stories. In a way, you are catering to all your tendencies built on what has seemed possible and impossible in your life. You are nursing all of your believed in inadequacies with your views on life. You might have a philosophy that “I am here just to see what God delivers to me.” In that case you can be pretty sure that God won’t deliver any fish. To catch fish you have to do what is right and what works for each situation. You have to be the major player in your own discovery process.
Some things are really basic. If your hook is not in the water, or doesn’t have bait on it, you are not fishing. What percentage of the time are you preparing your line, fixing your tackle or changing your position, and how much time are you really fishing? Your life is right here, but for many we are convinced that we need to prepare some more in order to live. We need to follow teachings and listen to “pointers” in order to live life correctly.
Some fishing is done with floats, sometimes called bobbers. When a fish is checking your bait, he is moving your float around. That is your hint that something is happening in life. Let’s say that we have found a great teacher whom we want to emulate. They have a sure fire method and they guarantee that you will progress through different levels of deepening experience. But you will never never catch a fish by watching someone else’s float, or reciting someone else’s pointers. You must watch only your own line to be fishing. You must focus on the subtleties of your own life to discover something new. (Read More)
In fishing it’s a given to say you want to catch a big fish. A fish gets big by living long (not getting caught many years before you come). Therefore older fish have learned quite a bit about how not to get caught. They know more about fishing that you do. Catching a big fish is very subtile. You have to watch your own line very intently and be undisturbed with extraneous thoughts of categories and pointers and judgements of how you are doing at it, or you are not fishing.
Fishing line has a memory. It picks up twists from being stretched and especially if you are using spinning tackle. If you make a false move and throw a lot of slack into your line those twists will wind up in an instant. You will have a huge knot. Your living also has strong tendencies which manifest problems when you make false moves. Some people label it Karma, and make an external “entity” out of it. But it is only your tendencies that have accumulated from rote living. Fishing often takes patient unwinding of the line on every false move. Anger or frustration never helps untie a fishing knot.
What does “catching a fish” symbolize in life? Isn’t contentment and happiness what we are all looking for? That is our big fish. When we find ourselves “preparing to be content”, we are searching for contentment with the method of discontent. It never ever can work, can it?
This realization casts doubt on every teaching and pointing method in the world, and puts them all in a proper perspective. Can you teach someone to fish by having them watch your bobber? Absolutely not. You have to convince them to stop watching any fish line other than their own. Can someone be searching for an awakening experience when they are content? Those are two diametrically opposite endeavors, aren’t they? The very searching is a dismissal of what is here now to be content about. Can you practice contentment? It is simpler than that. Contentment is just your definition. Apply it to this moment, and to your thoughts and feelings that it now contains.