One always tries to make a plan for how to meet life in one way or another. All of it takes place in imagination; there’s an effort to form an idea of how life ought to be, and then try to do two things: first of all, to make me conform to that idea through my behavior, and secondly, to try and thereby “force” life to be what I want it to be. One subtle issue with this is that I don't see how I am forcing — I always think that somehow what I'm doing is justifiable.
There are many ways that this applies to my day-to-day, ordinary life and the simple actions that I need to take care of, such as earning a living, cooking meals, interacting with others, and so on. That could be a whole discussion. But this morning, I want to discuss how we meet life from an inner and a spiritual point of view. By spiritual, I mean according to the dictates of the inward flow of energy, which we ought to sense but usually don’t.
This idea of a planned approach, whereby I will be prepared for everything, set myself tasks, put aside special parts of the day where I meditate and attend to life, and so on, is all necessary. There is no doubt about it. I can’t live without structure. But let’s face it, life arrives as a big, messy, unpredictable situation. It doesn’t matter how many plans I make; life won’t conform to them. The outward world is endlessly creative and does not establish its direction or sustain its force through me. So there needs to be something within me that has a capacity for responding to that that is flexible, intelligent, and creative.
That living force arises from the inward flow of energy, which I call the inflow. This energy is inspired from a divine source that cannot be logically explained; it is the source of all life, and it transcends thinking in every way — at least, the kind of thinking that I am accustomed to doing.
In order to allow this energy to arise in me, I need to discover an instinctive relationship to life. By instinctive, I mean by impulse — that is to say, according to the natural force that arises within Being.
This natural force is an impulse — it is that which imparts force and creates movement. Force and movement are not inanimate in thinking creatures; they arise from a living impulse called agency. Each of us has an impulse in us created by the inflow, the force of life which does not arise within material but only expresses itself through it. Our difficulty lies in the fact that we rely excessively on our relationship to material, and then interpret everything through it. If we came into an intimate relationship with the inward energy of the inflow, we would not make this mistake.
My life arises naturally. No matter what I do, until I am dead, life will always arise naturally in a reciprocal relationship: my inward life arrives naturally from the inflow, and my being exists. The other side of this is that life arises naturally from outside, in the form of objects, events, circumstances, and conditions. I find my life in the intersection between these two situations, which are actually not separated, even though my experience of them is.
Being has a capacity to arrive quite naturally and without any excessive force or rigid form. It can arise naturally and gently and place itself quite precisely at the point where my awareness brings these two situations together. I need to have a flexibility of intelligence and attention that places itself quite gently in this place and then sits there, quietly and in stillness, awaiting the moment of response.
Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.