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  Seeing God everywhere—the sanctity of nature Back to the List of Slideshows
slide 13 of 17

Water is a multi-faceted symbol representing life, purity, sanctity, knowledge and the soul.  As with so many other symbols in Nature, it has become for modern man no more than a commodity.  Titus Burckhardt explains in “The Symbolism of Water”:
Modern man completely separates not only “the beautiful” from “the useful,” but also “the beautiful” from “the real.”  This way of thinking is like a split in one’s consciousness, and it is difficult to say whether it is cause or effect of a state of affairs which, on the one hand, drives man systematically to destroy, on an ever-widening front, the natural balance of things and, on the other, impels him periodically to flee the artificial world which in this way he creates.
This wonderful essay lays out for us in vivid detail the beauty of the symbols, the importance of them for our inner life and the consequences of ignoring the connection between inner and outer:
Water has more than a purely physical or biological meaning; the spiritual realities, of which it is the symbol, are never attached to it arbitrarily, but are directly and logically derived from its essence.  The contemplative beholding of Nature which, through essential and constant appearances, perceives the timeless prototypes or causes of these appearances, is not something that is merely sentimental, nor is it bound to time and place, and this despite the fact of the modern world, from which this kind of contemplation seems to have been banished.  We say “seems,” for such a contemplation of things is too deeply rooted in the human heart to be able to disappear completely.  It even continues unconsciously, and it would not be difficult to show how the mysterious attraction of water as something sacred, as a symbolic and manifested expression of a psychic or cosmic reality, lives on in art, especially in painting and poetry.
In the same essay, Burckhardt wrote: “Who, when confronted with a pure mountain lake or with a spring gushing forth from the rock, has never felt at least something of the awe and veneration that are inseparable from anything sacred?”
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