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"Flow" © Michael Gambino 2011When I started this website nearly three years ago, I set out to share my experiences and observations on nature and spirituality in the course of living an ordinary life. I knew it would evolve into what it needed to be so long as I was willing to have my direction, my topics, and my choice of words guided by inner vision. 

I feel that there is a shift occurring in all areas of my life and so this will naturally influence my writing going forward.

As with most journey’s in life, we begin with certain expectations, destinations, and an initial purpose for taking the journey. At some point, if we are truly on a journey (and not simply “commuting” between childhood and old age), we may begin to feel that something is following us. We look over our shoulder, metaphorically speaking, to see what’s there. We may not see it, or know what to call such an intangible thing, but we sense its presence. In time, we come to realize that it is leading us, not following on our heels as we once thought. It is only later on that we may come to understand that what we thought was following, then leading us, is actually a great river of spiritual forces, and that we are eternally immersed in its infinite flow.

When we think we are in control of our lives, we often end up swimming against the spiritual currents in this great river, despite achieving many of our objectives in this material world. In my experience, this rigid desire for control causes much frustration and often develops into a battle to win against all odds. Sometimes I win sometimes I lose, but either way, it is a struggle. There are things that are worth fighting for of course, but fighting purely to acquire things, money, power, or fame is an empty pursuit. It is self-serving. When your work is guided by love and a purpose beyond self, these same acquisitions have a spiritual component and depth to them. Also, the way there is often made clear (albeit in small increments) and though it still takes work and a strong commitment, the struggle is diminished, and a sense of purpose is deepened.

Following one’s vision and life-path can be a challenge and a mystery most of the time. It is an ongoing adventure and a process of refinement. I recall an experience I had many years ago as part of my wilderness-based spiritual training that taught me much about the nature of following my vision.

It began when I waded into the shallows of a cold, gently flowing river. I blindfolded myself, preparing to float downstream backwards. Shivering violently, I sank into the water and tried to relax. Intense fear gripped my mind as I fought the chill and struggled to control where I was going. In this state of mind and being, I repeatedly slammed into submerged logs and got tangled in dense beds of aquatic vegetation. Fear of injury and drowning clouded my consciousness. After a surprisingly short time of this flailing struggle, I had exhausted myself and realized my mistake – fighting the water was futile. The solution was to stop trying to control where I was headed and just surrender to the flow of the river. Consciously relaxing my body and mind to become part of the water, I immediately noticed a sense of relief. A short while later, my perception of time and place shifted; there was no cold, no obstacle – and no river. That is to say, no separation between my personal consciousness and that of the universe. I had touched the spirit of the water, and for a long time it seemed that I soared through space past vivid constellations of planets, stars, and galaxies. I was completely at peace, with no effort or struggle or fear. A deeper understanding of my true nature unfolded in my mind, and with it arose a compelling desire to share what I have discovered about life, nature, and spirit with others.

It seemed like ages had gone by when, with some surprise, I felt my body gently wash ashore on a sandy beach at a bend in the river. This physical contact brought me back to earth. The comparative sensation of just how heavy and dense this physical dimension is was shocking. When I took off the blindfold, I looked back up river and marveled at the many obstacles I avoided by surrendering to the flow of the river. It carried me safely around submerged hazards, past thick mats of aquatic plants, and under areas of impenetrable, overhanging thickets. When I was blindfolded, I could not possibly see where I needed to go, yet nonetheless, I was expertly guided by the force of the current and my willingness to trust it.

In daily practice, this kind of surrender is an enormous challenge. Obstacles to our staying in the flow, of hearing and following the direction of spirit, litter the pathway, clog the senses, and threaten us one way or another at every turn. Now more than ever, I feel the deep need to strengthen my ability to trust the forces that guide me to truth and my right-place in life.

Reader Comments (1)

This was a beautiful and heartfelt essay. It is essential to let that "great river of spiritual forces" carry us. Your experience floating blindfolded in a real river was a wonderful lesson in surrendering to that other current. I agree with what you said about letting your work be "guided by love and a purpose beyond self." It makes it true, it makes it deep. Thanks for sharing your wisdom!

March 31, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChristine Boyka Kluge

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