Sunday, February 06, 2005

The river knows its own course

The world we live in is filled with obstructions that block our perception of who we are and why we are here. The path to understanding our place in the world and how to find contentment is blocked by all manner of technology, social distractions that divert us from our inner purpose, and obstructions placed in our way by others whose intentions are not benevolent.

We are powerless to control some things in life. This is the very nature of the universe, from which we were created. The universe simply does appear to be constructed of uncertainty, of creation and destruction, of good and evil, of yin and yang. This dualism is present in our very essence. And from this, is derived all manner of personal distraction, ill-intended action, and manifest evil.

Indeed, language itself is an imperfect, insufficient way of revealing truth. To "speak the truth" is itself an untruth. Even as I meditate on the concept of serendipity, I shall ever fail to be able to reveal the truth as long as I resort to words alone. The best I can hope for is to approximate the actual truth.

External obstructions do not merit too much attention. In fact, to the extent that we are not destroyed by them, and learn to overcome them, we become stronger.

We are sentient creatures in a material universe with which we must interact, with no more worth than any other thing, but with a higher place of obligation to fulfill our purpose in that universe.

We need to learn not to become distracted, but to focus on the things we can control. To remain focused on our inner voices, to the meaning and direction that is revealed when we free ourselves from distraction and just listen.

Of course this isn't easy. It takes practice. It requires an ability to tune out the distractions that draw away our attention.

Many cross their own spiritual rivers as though they were obstacles on the way to satisfying their desire for other things--other distractions--not realizing that the river is the intended path for their lives. They are not listening to the river. Siddhartha (Herman Hesse) learned that life is filled with many distractions, all of which can teach us something about the larger universe, but true meaning rests in listening to the river of our souls, listening for that still quiet voice that is only revealed when you see that the river is not an obstacle, but is in fact the path for your life. Our lives may be bounded by the banks of that river, and limited by the path the river follows, but it knows the way. When we follow that path, we find true meaning, purpose, and fulfillment.

There may be many ways for that meaning to emerge in this material world. We could do many things, pursue many professions. The relatively prosperous western world in which we (I) live, contains many possibilities for our lives. We may feel confused by all the possibilities. But this only underscores the need to more deeply cultivate a profound relationship with our inner selves.

We must also not be so distracted by our inner voices that we lose sight of the role we play in the lives of others. In the western world (and Americans are the worst in this regard), we enjoy privilege without a sense of obligation. That others should suffer when we enjoy such incredible material luxury is denying ourselves the fulfillment that could be obtained by learning about the hardship suffered by others, and by sharing with them the gifts we enjoy. Our inner voice knows this truth--that we must engage our physical presence with others, and in so doing, fulfill that mission to which we are called into the universe.

There is in my thought process a yet incomplete notion expanding upon the metaphor of our lives as rivers. We move in a three-dimensional space, interacting over time with objects in that space, and with other people in that universe. As we move through that universe, we pass through spaces and intervals filled with opportunities, and alternately with difficulties. We may not be able to control what happens to us at any time and place, but by being tuned into the possibilities, and by connecting those possibilities with our own sense of purpose, we can remain aloft in a sense of fulfillment.

We can ride the tide of the river afloat, rather than be pulled under by struggling against it.

The river knows its own course. Follow the river.