When I go the ocean I notice there are two kinds of people. There are the people who in the waves and look out over the vast ocean. They see the waves come in and they take in the greatness of the ocean and they seem to get a sense that they are very very small. Standing looking at the ocean is humbling and we are awestruck when we do. It is important to look at the ocean and face the mystery of the sea. But facing the ocean also comes at a price. You miss seeing the beauty of the land behind you. Which brings me to the other type of person I see at the ocean.
These folk stand in the waves and turn their back to the ocean and look at the magnificent beach and skyline of the land. It is amazing to see how the earth's features seem to be shaped by a carpenter's plane. The roughness of the rocks that shape the shore become smooth and those same rocks are now tiny specks wedged in between their toes as sand. The sound of the ocean behind and the breeze at their back they take in the great beauty, but turning your back on the ocean comes at a price. You miss seeing the great mystery of the ocean behind you. Which may be why many people prefer to face the ocean.
But when we stand in the ocean and face the shore or the sea, we put ourselves in a position of great vulnerability. Not only do we miss the other half of life when we choose a direction to face, but when your shoulders are parallel to the waves you are susceptible of being knocked over by the waves.
Being knocked over by the waves of life is perhaps rooted in the way we stand, our posture. Which may be why so many religions talk about having or taking a good posture. If our natural inclination is to either face the ocean or the shore, the spiritual life teaches us to turn our posture so we are 90 degrees - able to see the sea and shore. This is also a posture we are more able to take the one coming waves without being knocked over.
We do not turn our back on that which we know (the shore) and we do not turn our backs on that which we do not know (the sea). We take the posture of being able to see both the known and unknown.