All the rivers run to the sea

Discussion in 'English Only' started by quietdandelion, Sep 1, 2007.

  1. quietdandelion

    quietdandelion Banned

    All the rivers run to the sea, but the sea is not yet full.

    I ran across the above sentence in a film named "Julian Po." What does it imply? Thanks.
  2. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England

    I think it's a jokey hint at the idea that if you leave the tap running and the plug in, the bath will overflow.

    It's neglecting to take into account evaporation - there may be many other important effects: I'm no scientist.
  3. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    It implies that a lack of context can produce amusing results.
    Having bathed in the dim light of ignorance, I would take it to be
    a figurative statement that lots of prior repetition of something has
    not changed an outcome.

    Yes, I may bang my head against a wall for a long time, and the
    wall will still be there.

    Maybe I should do this while in a bath, Thomas.
  4. Molot

    Molot Senior Member


    I saw 'Julian Po', a movie about a man who arrives at a small US town with the intent to commit suicide and how the townspeople react to him. I don't remember this line particularly, but I think it is meant to be philosophical, not scientific.

    I think it is trying to say that no matter how much we endure (emotionally, spiritually, whatever,) we cannot reach a threshhold or maximum which indicates the "end" of our ability to exist just as all rivers empty their contents into the sea, yet the sea doesn't overflow or flood. It may also be trying to say that the rivers keep flowing into the sea and it's not in the sea's control and the sea is surviving well. In our lives, problems will always exist and enter our lives steadily, but we still survive because we all have the capacity to cope with our problems in some way, just as the ocean continuously accepts water from all the rivers and still remains an ocean.
  5. quietdandelion

    quietdandelion Banned

    Thanks, my helpful friends.
    I thought the base sentence is an English saying or something that native speakers may be familiar with.
    There is a similar proverb in Chinese, and the general idea is that the reason why the sea is so huge is that it is broad and generous enough to take in all the water of all the rivers. Perhaps, it teaches us a lesson that we should be generous, broad-minded, and forgiving. Then, one day we could be like the sea--tolerate and take everything in.
    I am not sure if I understand it right or not. If any of my friends have just watched the film recently, please correct my mistake.
  6. Molot

    Molot Senior Member

    Hi quietdandelion,

    You may be right in your interpretation, too. The Chinese proverb could be a parallel here. I saw the movie a few years ago, so it is not fresh in my mind. I think the sentence can and probably does have multiple meanings, including in the context of the film. Perhaps that is why the scriptwriter chose to put such a line in the dialog. It was meant to make people think!
  7. quietdandelion

    quietdandelion Banned

    Thanks, Molot, for the reply.
    I'm both surprised and happy that you also saw the film because it's quite old and not very popular.
  8. GreenWhiteBlue

    GreenWhiteBlue Senior Member

    The City of New York
    USA - English
    This is a verse from the Bible (specifically verse 7 of Chapter 1 of the Book of Ecclesiastes):
    All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.

    The theme of the writer of Ecclesiastes was the vanity of human efforts.
  9. bhagavan dasa

    bhagavan dasa Senior Member

    Brazil, portuguese
    It's a metaphor that, as most of them, accepts many meanings.

    There's a similar verse in the Bhagavad-gita, the called bible of the hinduists, which reads:

    "A person who is not disturbed by the incessant flow of desires--that enter like rivers into the ocean which is ever being filled but is always still--can alone achieve peace, and not the man who strives to satisfy such desires". (Bg 2.70)
  10. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    I think GreenWhiteBlue is nearer the mark when he suggests that it's saying that however much we rush about nothing will ever come of anything. It's a gloomy message.
  11. nichec

    nichec Senior Member

    I agree. To me it's like the ancient story (Greek? perhaps.........) about a man who keeps pushing a huge stone up the hill, and then the gravity keeps pushing the stone back to where it was before (the message of the story: humans can't outsmart the nature of things/fate.....)
  12. quietdandelion

    quietdandelion Banned

    Thanks, my helpful friends.
    The meaning of the base sentence is getting clearer and clearer because of your posts. It's not the same as our Chinese version.

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