Discovering treasure in a mountain stream

Nov 7, 2019 | 8 comments

The stream that runs through the Oasis outside of Cuenca.

I spend time each day, living in my rural paradise outside Cuenca, playing in the quebrada (mountain stream). I have a project, moving stones in the creek, creating a wading pool, and sifting through the gravel finding a variety of quartz. The myriad of colors of the small stones, the sun reflecting off the water, the sound of the many
waterfalls are my treasures. A visitor once told me that I would be likely to find gold if I dig down to the bedrock under the creek. Whether this is true or not doesn’t really matter to me, as my devotion to this daily activity is the true gold.

When I was a boy I sought refuge in a small creek. Somehow, even at a young age, I felt the sweet comfort of nature. I spent endless hours alone in my personal paradise.  Throughout my life, living first in Connecticut, California and Colorado, later in Massachusetts, Minnesota and Montana, I always found a special place alongside a mountain stream. In my spiritual studies I learned that the Taoist masters, whom I came to revere, spoke of a mountain stream as having the perfect balance of masculine and feminine energies. They went as far as to say that a mountain stream represented the highest form of energy and power in the world.

So what was I seeking in my private paradise? What have I found now in my OASIS after so many decades of searching? A reflection of heaven, perhaps, a surely a true sense of home. By my count, I’ve lived in 47 places in my 55 years in the U.S.  In my last 12 years in Latin America I have called at least 12 places home; here in Ecuador, settling in Cuenca, it still took me 6 places until finally, at long last, I found my final home in this world. And the one consistent thread weaving through this peripatetic life was the river, the creek, the mountain stream, called quebrada in Spanish.

Guest cottages at the Oasis.

What life lesson have I learned from endless hours with rock and water? I have learned the distinction between primary living and secondary living. For me, a primary life consists of time touching the eternal. There is a primacy in nature, and especially in flowing water. You might say that this fundamental energetic flow is the very essence of life on earth. But is also carries with it qualities of the eternal, what is divine. The Taoists use the symbol of the yin and yang, a circle with half dark and half light, separated by a curving line. For me this curving line represents the river, this place with the perfect balance of masculine (stone) and feminine (water). Spending time enjoying this energetic interplay appears to have been the saving grace in my life.

So how does this primacy guide us in Conscious Living? And what constitutes the condition of a secondary life? For me the secondary life is that of a spectator, one who finds entertainment in the creativity and activity of others. Reading a book, watching a movie, listening to music, dining in a restaurant, talking with family or friends, are all examples of a secondary life. I was once an avid reader, and I spent 40 years devoted to film. There was a moment that I can remember distinctly hearing an internal voice telling me that, for example, it was time to stop reading and time to begin to write my own story. It was time to stop listening to the compositions of others and go into stillness where I could listen to the symphony of the eternal as it sought to manifest through me.

This is the secret of Conscious Living. We come to know our function as conduits through which the eternal manifests itself in the space-time world.  ckhart Tolle, in his masterpiece, The Power of Now, describes god as “the unmanifested.” Self-Realization comes when we know our divine function and Self-Actualization comes when we give our lives fully to this function. We literally become a bridge between heaven and earth.  We walk with one foot in the world and the other foot in eternity. And what is the result of this awakening? Endless creativity, unstoppable enthusiasm, and true happiness.

I invite those of you who have ears to hear to come and spend time with me in my rural paradise here in Ecuador at my OASIS outside of Cuenca. There is the possibility by simply spending time cultivating stillness, embracing the primacy of the dance of the eternal as it manifests in the world, for personal redemption. It is never too late in one’s life to awaken, to shake loose the conditioning and conformity of a secondary life, and to find true freedom and true happiness. It is said that if we age well we become again like little children, happy, free, at play “in the fields of the lord.”

Louis Bourgeois lives outside of Cuenca with his wife and baby. He teaches courses in Conscious Living and Conscious Dying and is currently developing the Oasis, an eco-resort. He can be contacted at

Louis Bourgeois

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