the FAQs of Life

frequently asked questions about life, reality and meaning


Can you step into the same river twice?

From each moment to the next a river is never the same. Nor are riverbanks, nor are you. So no action can ever be repeated exactly.

How can a river be ‘the same’? The same as what? The same as it was an hour ago? But the hour-ago river no longer exists; it has vanished without a trace, except the trace it left in memory. How can we compare the river now to the river that no longer is? The one is actual, the other virtual. Yet such is the power of memory that we mistake the virtual for the real.

The river now is living, flowing, winding, sparkling, rippled, deep. But these are words, and words themselves are based on memory. They give the illusion of continuity, of ‘realness’, but life is constantly flowing, ever new.

Life is whole but the mind, like a jigsaw, divides it into rivers and riverbanks, this time and next time, movement and stillness, me and you. Forgetting that these are only words, it believes there’s really a ‘river’, really a ‘me’. Then it tries to work out how the pieces fit together. They don’t, because words can never encompass life.

You cannot step into the same river twice because there was never a ‘river’, there is no ‘you’; there is only the endless current of life.