Appeared in Clarity Magazine, Summer 2005
To flow with life means being able to adapt to everything that happens. When you live at your center, you can flow with life.
I once read a very interesting article about a man who worked in the French Underground at the time of the Nazi occupation. Somehow, the Nazis heard about him and came to arrest him. He was up on a top floor and the Nazis were in the lobby, in full force.
There seemed to be no way to escape and his first thought was one of despair. "I don’t know what to do. It’s hopeless." As soon as there’s any thought of despair, there’s a sudden lowering of energy, a sudden paralysis of the mind.
"I’m getting better and better"
But this man followed a teaching in which you affirm, "Every day in every way I am getting better and better." This positive, cheerful outlook was a very important part of his life. He suddenly remembered this affirmation and started saying it.
Things certainly didn’t seem "better and better"—with the Nazis ready to swarm up the stairs. But basically he was saying, "Okay, this has happened. Now what can I do about it? At least I can be joyful."
Joy is an expression of your soul reality, of that inner center from which positive attitudes radiate. From that center, this man was able to generate the magnetism to draw the inspiration he needed.
He said, "Oh, I saw that fellow. He’s up there on the top floor." And while the Nazis went storming upstairs, he walked calmly out the door.
The test of intuition: does it work?
When you can keep a cheerful, buoyant outlook—and that necessitates affirming that whatever comes is the right thing—you can change situations. For instance, this man did not affirm, "Oh, my God, the Nazis shouldn’t be here."
He said, "They’re here. Good. Now things are getting better." A ridiculous thought from a reasonable standpoint but it worked. That’s the point.
A common characteristic of the flow of intuition is that it often defies the reasonable way of doing things. Not that it’s irrational, but it’s a different kind of reasoning which is difficult to explain to people. The only proof of whether a feeling is intuitive or not is whether it works.
Absorb the obstacles as they come
To shift with the flow of circumstances, you need to be flexible and not always think, "I’m going to do this and I’m going to that."
It’s like going down a ski slope. You don’t stand at the top of the slope and say, "Well, at this point I’m going to turn left, and at that point I’m going to turn right." It’s only when you reach the little hillocks, or moguls as they’re called, that you can decide whether you’ll turn left or right to go around them.
The expert skier sees the ski slope as a continuity. He absorbs the obstacles as they come, into a graceful, flowing movement. Similarly, when you begin to see life as it really is—a divine flow—you understand that life’s obstacles are simply a part of that flow.
How do you "break?"
Without an ability to flow with life, spiritual growth is difficult. There is a story about Saint Francis when he was livingin a leaky, fragile hut with his brother monks. It was wintertime and a peasant with a donkey entered the hut and said, "This place is just perfect for me and my nag. Get out you bums."
The monks were outraged. They said, "How can we give this place up? We’ve given up everything else for God." But Saint Francis said, "No, we must leave." And they left.
God was testing St. Francis to see whether he had absolute faith in Him or whether he would say, "All right. I’ve given up this much, but not that."
To flow with life one must trust God. It’s important never to say, "No God. I’m willing to have any test, but not this one." That’s probably the first thing God’s going to work on. And that test will be the very door through which He wants to bless you.
Be content in yourself
One of the most important lessons in life is to learn to "break" the right way when pushed to the breaking point. The right way is always to remain centered and at peace in yourself.
I read a beautiful story years ago about a man who had great serenity and peace of mind. A young man who became his student asked him one day, "What is the secret of your calmness?" The older man replied, "Come with me, and I’ll show you."
He opened a little drawer in his desk, took out a fragile shell and said, "This is my secret."
The older man explained, "Many years ago I was a very wealthy person, but in the stock market crash of 1929, I lost everything overnight. I decided I would commit suicide, so I sent my family away, and went to our little cabin by the beach on Long Island. I wrote them a farewell note, and then set out to walk into the ocean— to just let the waves take me and drown.
"I tried to walk out into the ocean, but the waves kept throwing me back so hard against the beach that I couldn’t even stand. Each time I’d get up and try again but to no avail. Finally I tried with all my strength but was thrown down.
Go where the wave takes you
"As I lay on the wet sand, right in front of me was this fragile shell. It amazed me that although the waves were so powerful that I couldn’t stand up in them, this shell had not even been cracked. I realized its secret was that it went wherever the waves took it, without any resistance.
"That moment on the beach was the turning point in my life, because from then on I tried to adapt to whatever circumstances existed in my life, to wherever God placed me. Although I never became a millionaire again, I really didn’t mind because I found peace of mind."
You can’t control your environment, but you can control yourself by learning to live at your center. And having that control, you will be able to accept whatever is, and to be happy in yourself no matter what happens.