Monday, October 7, 2013

Go With the Flow

Monday Morning
-from my front courtyard-

Everyday I wake up to stories abut the "looming crisis" in Washington as the deadline for raising the debt ceiling approaches. This morning, I found one response to the "looming crisis" to be particularly interesting as someone remarked, "Everything seems to be so chaotic and out of control."  I think this response was so striking to me because everything is always chaotic and out of control. In a very real sense, this is the nature of life.

Centuries ago, the Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, "nothing endures but change- everything flows and nothing stays." The scientists of our own day would certainly affirm this ancient wisdom. Everything and everyone in the cosmos is a swirling mass of dynamic movement, always in a process of becoming something different.  

We like to imagine that everything is permanent and stable and able to be controlled, but actually the opposite is true. Nothing ever remains the same and essentially nothing can be controlled. 

And so, because we like to imagine that our lives rest upon a strong foundation of permanence and stability, when uncertainty about the future makes its way into consciousness, when things seem chaotic and out of control, people become anxious, worried, gripped by a fear of what might happen - a "looming crisis." 

As I stood in my front courtyard this morning and witnessed the light of the beautiful sunrise of a magnificent dawning new day, it struck me that the key to finding peace in the midst of the chaos of life rests upon the ability to embrace uncertainty.  Maybe another way of putting it is "go with the flow."

The Buddha taught:

Everything is impermanent.
When one sees this with wisdom, one turns away from suffering

I see such truth in this teaching. When we fear the change and chaos of life, when we try to stop the flow of our existence -longing for what used to be, anticipating how we can control what yet will come, we will always suffer. Our lives will be filled with dread and dominated by anxiety. One turns away from suffering by "going with the flow" of our impermanent existence.

My wife and I made a deliberate decision to move out into the desert for the later chapters in our life together. I knew the desert would have much to teach me, but it has taught me more than I ever imagined it would.  I now understand what people talk about when they say they have adopted a "desert spirituality." I now look at life with the soul of desert spirituality. 

On the surface the desert looks so "never-changing"  - rock solid mountains, miles and miles of unchanging desert terrain. But when you scratch beneath the surface, you discover that the desert is a constant flow of change, and you never know what to expect. 

Every morning I wake up and it always looks different. Everything is literally different than the day before - the air, the clouds, the mountains never look the same as they did yesterday (I, myself am  different than the day before).  One day it can be in the triple digits and then overnight the cool breezes sweep the terrain and unsuspecting autumn flowers bloom on prickly cacti. It's all an endless flow of change. 

I live in this ever changing, totally uncontrollable and untamable wilderness and yet  I never feel afraid,  and I never feel alone.  I am connected to it all -  dynamically connected to everything and everyone in the great cosmic flow. 

And in the midst of the flow - an abiding, Holy Presence - a cloud by day, a pillar of fire by night - a peace that surpasses understanding. 

Go with the flow!

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  1. one of the most reasonable things I have read in recent times. wow.