Stream of Life


This is the last chapter in my book: “On Human Being – Loving & Living without Purpose.”

 

Follow a stream from its highest point, whether it is a spring releasing water from an unknown source or from the snows of winter melting and giving their life giving waters to everything below.  As the stream finds its way down from its heights, it passes by or over many obstacles along its way, but it always seems to find a way.  Its course often seems impossible, but as it runs into obstacles, it finds the path of least resistance which sometimes means going around obstacles or perhaps it waits patiently to fill a certain low spot that will allow its waters to eventually flow over its would-be obstruction.  As we follow the stream, it will sometimes rush in great torrents down steep hillsides or spill over high cliffs into pristine pools below.  Sometimes it will meander through large open meadows where beautiful alpine flowers bloom and fill the landscape with color, fragrance and brilliance.  Perhaps the stream splits off and fills the meadow with small tributaries that merge back together.

 

The sounds of the stream also tell us something about its travels in that it will gurgle as it meanders through unobstructed fields and meadows, but it rushes and roars as it surges over cliffs, down steep canyons filled with large boulders and other obstructions.  As we continue our journey following the waters, we might see another stream joining ours, increasing its size and power.  Still, the waters push forward, twisting and turning as needed to work its way around the landscape as effortlessly as possible.  In fact, as we observe this stream, it never occurs to us that the waters are fighting their way downward.  It all seems so effortless and easy.  Even in those places where the river has cut its way through rocks and cliffs that, when looking at, simply does not look possible.

 

The stream weaves its way through a tapestry of life introducing us to all manner of trees, shrubs, plant life, and animal and insect life of all kinds.  Some of the places the stream takes us are shaded from the sunlight and are cool and dark, even forbidding, while other places are sunlit and brilliant and the shadows cast on the moving water make it look different, even mesmerizing.  There are places on its journey where it shoots through cracks in the rock and we see rainbows cast so close, we can touch them or we feel the cool mist on our faces.  Everything about this journey is peaceful and calm and the constant rushing of the river soothes us and at times we may even find ourselves talking to the waters as if they could hear.  They can! Never do we sense, as we journey alongside the stream, that it struggles to get where it is going.  It moves effortlessly, inexorably passing by all the wonders of its long journey to get to its destination which, by the way, does not exist.  As it passes by life, it gives life by giving of itself so that all is refreshed, nourished and uplifted.  It is a relaxed life that looks for peace wherever it goes, and it goes where it goes simply because that is where it goes.  We may find evidence along the way when it changed course or with the help of natural forces it moves out of one bed and into another.  Still, it matters not.  The stream is not choosing a path to follow.  It is simply flowing and as it flows, the path opens up, and with each new opening, new adventure, new beauty and wonder lies before it and it brushes up against all of it, content to take it all in and give back what it can in the form of life giving water.   Onward, ever onward, it moves through hills and valleys, forest and fields.  Taking in but giving back.

 

The stream gives life, but is given to life as life is given to it.  Its course is never straight nor is it narrow or wide.  We cannot map its exact course because a map of the stream’s journey could never account for every detail the stream encounters on its way down the mountain. The stream does not choose this way or that.  It simply flows where the grade of the mountain (life) takes it and it embraces and gives back to everything it encounters on its way.  Every aspect of the journey is just that – part of the journey. There is no purpose other than to serve as that part of the journey.  That incredible moment is as the water passes by all that matters and all is uplifted and better for the experience.  No great crossroads or turning points in this encounter or that one.  Just life giving of itself for all to marvel at and enjoy.  The stream moves on, as do we.

 

There are no perfect geometric patterns in life as we all would like to believe there is, or as our math and science teachers say.  The straight path does not exist except in our imagined lives.  There is no straight way to any purpose we consider to be our very own.  Life is a stream!  We are taught from a very early age that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, but no part of our life on earth is a straight line.  In life, the shortest distance between two points is the one that took you from point A to point B regardless of what distance you traveled or the time it took. Ego looks at life in a finite way, and in so doing, it must find order and structure that was never intended to be there.   Our true life is an infinite experience and every twist and turn, the ebbs and flows, as we call them, are never consistent with what our egos expect.  This is the cause of suffering in individuals as well as in society.  Ego constructs a true and ordered life and even uses sacred writings and ancient wisdom to reason with us that if we follow the prescribed path it reasons is the correct one, life will work out and flow effortlessly to the end.

 

Those who rigidly follow their ego’s prescribed course often find themselves in turmoil and needless suffering because they followed the rules and they didn’t get where they were supposed to.   Life is full of Monday morning quarterbacks looking back at what went wrong with their plan or what they could have done differently to achieve the pre-planned outcome.  We see this second guessing, questioning in every aspect of our lives including religion, academics, and occupations.  We might hear someone exclaim, “I followed God’s laws as I have been taught them”, or “I worked hard and did everything I was supposed to, but why was I not protected or spared an outcome I was sure could not happen if I obeyed all the rules.”   Unlike the natural flow of the stream which always finds its way, many will push against the natural course of life.  They will push against it and question their misfortune.  You can almost see them standing in the stream facing upward with clenched fist defying the direction of flow as if challenging it to reverse its direction and go where they command it.  All it does, however, is move forward, following its natural course, either moving around you as you fight against it, or sweeping you up in its current.  Life does not care about the choices we make.  Life, like the river, flows on, embracing everything in its path, and giving back every step of the way. If we could see our lives as a river or stream and simply flow with it, our journey would be so much more pleasant and our expectations would not get mixed up or confused with the twists and turns in life we could not see coming.

 

The grand part of life we can all enjoy is the pure experience of it.  A river has no purpose other than to flow where it will, and it is the same for us.  Life flows on whether we resist it or not.  Why not enjoy it? Human ego is so busy finding or giving meaning to the process of life and finding justification and cause for everything that happens that we miss much of its inherent beauty.  We pass by the works of man or nature and never see them because our focus is on understanding life rather than living it.  In trying to understand it or analyze it, we miss it or it passes us by.  Every bend in the stream, every change in direction is an opportunity to experience life in a new and incredible way, and particularly from our own unique perspective.   Maybe we won’t experience things as others might, but what we do experience is uniquely ours and the only enrichment we need take from any experience is our own to appreciate and fully embrace.  “What happens; happens.”  Not because we have control over life by the choices we make, but because there are no wrong choices, which is the same as saying there are no choices at all.  If we participate in life without the mental anguish of deciding the better of all our various choices then anything we do, any path we follow will be good and right and un-judge-worthy. This type of participation in life removes the resistance we feel as well.

 

I used to tell my daughter, who would work so hard to get cast in school plays, or achieve academic success only to be disappointed over and over, that life was not fair.  I would tell her that she would encounter situations throughout her life that would prove that life was unfair and that she would be mistreated along the way, even though she worked harder and harder to achieve her objectives.  How naïve I was and, unfortunately, the message I imparted to her was completely wrong.  Not only is life fair, but it is completely honest.  Life is truth therefore it cannot be dishonest.  The only dishonesty in life is our own dishonesty which culminates deep within the egoic structures of the mind.   Our egoic identity is the only thing on this planet that resists the natural flow of life, to the point that what we have come to believe about ourselves and what we are is the only dishonest thing in life.  Ego-constructed reality and reality are diametrically opposed to each other and we get caught up in the game of life that convinces us that life is hard and not always just or fair.  Ego is always swimming against the current of life, trying to offer another kind of reasoning for the ebb and flow that doesn’t always seem so pleasant.   Life is always honest and it always finds the way to bear that out.  How hard we sometimes struggle to keep what we know about ourselves from ever seeing the light of day, and so we bring dishonesty to the light of life.  Our lies, our dishonesty dims the light of life, and compounds our struggle against the stream that, if we would only let go of everything we hold so tightly to, would all drift out of sight and our lives would freely and effortlessly blend together with the flow of life never to be consumed in worry, doubt or the endless game of making ourselves “other” than ourselves.

 

Nothing in our three dimensional awareness can account for what is really happening and therein lies the greatest lie we tell ourselves.  The more precise and defined we become, the less aware we are; and the more we convince ourselves that we are precise and defined, the more of our true selves we trample under foot, and the greater our lie becomes. The lack of awareness culminates in the denial of the stream of life we all follow.  It is to convince ourselves that we can make the stream of life straight and exact according to geometric rules that only hold in a manmade reality.  We convince ourselves that within the sterile structure of manmade forms is the answer to who we are if we but push science to find the one simple equation that defines everything we will ever need to know.   Only the ego could have created such a lie.  Only ego could convince us that straight lines can be found in nature and that a formula can be derived that will be able to predict everything we can expect for the future and give an explanation for everything that has happened in the past.  Conscious awareness is a very limited awareness because of its ability to dump so much information so quickly we cannot even sense that it is happening.

 

As we meander or tumble through life, we tend to miss the incredible sights along the way as they are happening, but we know they were there because we think back upon them. Sometimes we look forward to the horizon out yonder and think that when we get there, things will be so much better, or all our questions will be answered.  We easily look forward and backward because those are the places we can most freely and successfully lie about.  In the conversation we have with ourselves, we can reminisce how much better things were “back then” or how much better they will be in some future “when”.   Now, the present moment we exist in right now, is an honest moment that is pure and untainted by any thought for yesterday or tomorrow until our egoic reaction to it poisons it with untruth.  Facing the present is our most daunting challenge because of its purity.  In our un-pure state, we have difficulty facing the purity of present reality because being present forces us to look at ourselves without the ideological masks that we have created to shield us from the glare of present reality.  Being present strips us clean of all the false definition we use to demonstrate ourselves to the world.  It is a scary place for the ego.  In fact, it is a place the ego cannot exist in because ego is anything but honest.   Ego needs identity.  That is why it always reminds us and everyone else of its past accomplishments or projected future achievements.  These are its cover; a safe haven from something that cannot be explained in its terms, its language.

 

The stream of life is infinite.  The egoic life is finite.  The two cannot co-exist.  They cancel each other out.  Either we are in the flow and completely truthful or we are in illusion and living a lie.  The stream of life is enjoined with the world and nothing is missed along the way.  The largest of egos and the highest degrees of knowledge and education cannot describe what the stream knows.   Its world is the whole world and it is one with it.  It knows the terrain, the hills, valley and rocks along the way and is never fooled by images condensed and printed on a map that the ego provides.   It feels everything and reaches out to everything, as it gives to life, its “own” life. Consciousness cuts away so much of life while ego tries so hard to convince us that what we are conscious of is the real nuts and bolts of life.  It works hard to convince us that its view of the world “is” the world.  Its view is always looking backward or forward, but never does it acknowledge the present with its billions and billions of pieces of information discernible right now to a quiet non-egoic soul.

 

We are in the stream of life whether the egoic self believes it or not, and the stream always moves ahead, even if we fight against the current.  Our experience is an unfolding. The more we flow with life, the more a part of us life becomes. Every aspect of the terrain we pass through is our guide, our map and our journey becomes an infinite stream of intuition and awareness that consciousness no longer blots out.   Our intuition and our wonderful bodies are sensory instruments available to all of us to navigate and enjoy our life experience here on planet earth.   We step off the cosmic train for a short time and we can enjoy the experience or fight against it.  We choose.  The ego created world is calculated and sterile and does everything it can to reduce the stimulation we all are equipped to comprehend.  Granted, the comprehension is not in the language of ego, which has also been stripped away of the greater part of knowing.  Our intuitive abilities need to be at the forefront of our awareness, not in the background as they often are.  Tune them in and turn on the truth of real life. Real existence! Destiny is unknown, therefore, non-existent.

 

The possibilities available to us along our journey through life are endless.  Ego wants to see and plan for the end.  It seeks a goal, an end that, when reached, is somehow a utopic conclusion to a well-planned life strategy. I was speaking with a friend one evening who was looking for a catalyst of perhaps thought or an individual such as Buddha or Jesus, who by their words and deeds could change the hearts and minds of people to live in peace.  He shared his thoughts about how the so-called age of enlightenment some 500 years earlier, which was ushered in by such great minds as Newton, Descartes, Pascal and others, had failed to provide the predicted “know how” to change a dark world into an enlightened one.  The age of enlightenment was supposed to find “mind made” solutions to all the ills of human existence, including war, poverty, education, government, and every other aspect of life.  My friend recognized the failure of the intellectual mind or so-called “enlightened mind” to accomplish anything other than to increase suffering and the carnage of war on a greater, more massive scale.   While he lamented this failure of enlightened minds to solve complex world issues, he asked me, “If the age of enlightenment is not the answer, what is the catalyst, event or individual that brings about changes the enlightenment sought but could not produce?”

 

My answer was not what he wanted to hear.  I told him that to look, in any way, to an outward cause, to an individual, or event would never bring about the changes in human existence he sought.  The only change or catalyst he could ever affect was his own.  I told him that we, as humans, are all a part of the stream of life, but that we each are our own stream as well.  Individually, we affect the larger stream, but with human reasoning, we will likely never see it.   When we become our own catalyst, our change, we become the larger stream and it becomes us and our outlook on the conditions of the world we wish were different becomes part of a compassionate whole.  When such a change takes place in us individually, everything else changes as well.  My friend listened thoughtfully, but was unable to see it.  His mind was convinced that something big and extraordinary was needed to alter things in the world as we know it.  My response to him was that an individual transformation to higher awareness is big and extraordinary, but he would not accept that as an answer.  “There must be something,” he mused. I could not help him.

 

The majority of us look for the same thing.  We look to our gods, our leaders, our parents, someone, anyone or anything that will reverse the way things are in a massive and dramatic way.  We are conditioned to be this way.  Heaven forbid we allow ourselves control of our own lives.  That is how it was in the so-called enlightenment, when highly sophisticated and educated men determined that they could figure out anything intellectually.  It continues to be a myth in the present day, yet the stream flows onward, ever onward and as long as we look for the utopic conclusion, the life strategy or catalyst that changes in a massive way those things we have determined must change we swim against the current of life.  Life is, at that point, a struggle and we will never win against it.  Despite our struggle and good intentions, we will be washed away in the inexorable flow of life that always moves forward.

 

Everyone is eventually swept away in the current of life.  Some hang on until the very end while others stop resisting and glimpse the beauty and splendor that is always there if we simply let ourselves get caught up in the flow. The stream of life simply is!  So too is life.  Life is about being in the flow, not having or fighting for or against it.  Regardless of the things we determine to be important, or the causes we choose, we struggle against or go with the stream of life but it always flows onward to an infinite destination we will never know.   But we need not know because such knowing will not add one thing to the incredible beauty, abundance and wonder of our existence.  We need only breathe life as it breathes us and go where it takes us. There is no end in infinity!  The stream of life is eternal life; so are you!

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