Real life is not static. Its only rule is change; so, it should be clear: either we agree to participate in the process of this eternal renewal, or we will feel punished by it. This means it's impossible to be someone who knows how things "should be"--and share in life's ceaseless newness at the same time. Yes, we may be able to devise a formula for a prescription drug, or create a new recipe for vegetable soup--but no system of thought that can stand up to the ever-shifting changes of real life, let alone meet those same changes fearlessly. Regardless how sophisticated its knowledge, the self that knows itself only through its own conditioned thinking can never develop beyond the content of itself, any more than a math equation can suddenly outgrow the line of symbols responsible for its form.
The truth is we can't know what to do in advance of any given moment. When we meet life with pre-conceived ideas about how to respond to what unfolds before us--we are like downhill skiers trying to know when and where to make turns before it snows. Add to this idea the fact that whenever socially contrived ideals go before us as measuring sticks, they are too soon turned into some form of self-righteous judgment--making us quick to punish anyone found guilty of not doing what we think ought to have been done.
Knowledge, regardless of its sophisticated nature, is a tool. It arises from and belongs to what has passed. As such it embodies, defines, and relates us to life through what we already know is true about the world around us. By definition, this kind of understanding is limited. But real life is not limited to what was; it is always new because it's the expression of a compassionate and living intelligence that actively shapes whatever it touches, as well as whatever reaches out to touch it. You could say that each moment appears, as it does--in whatever its form or color--hard or soft, dark or light-- to reveal us to ourselves. How can we hope to learn from such moments, to be transformed and perfected by them, if we meet them with hardened biased views about how they should unfold? No form is free.
And just as one wouldn't mistake the ladder he must climb for the rooftop from which he hopes to view the stars, neither should we confuse even the most sophisticated spiritual knowledge for those innermost revelations that can come to us only through living in the now. Genuine self-knowledge is one and the same as being fully self-aware in the present moment. As such, it is never static. This fluid level of Self places no demands on life, therefore it fears nothing that life may reveal. Being fearless, it never has to imagine a freedom "to come," any more than a river needs to imagine how to flow.
When you are present to yourself, quietly watchful of the relationship that is always unfolding in the present moment, then you have no more need to prepare for what life will bring than a newly opened rose needs to ready itself for the warmth of the sun that comes to release its fragrance.
(Excerpted from The Courage to Be Free, Weiser Books, 2010)
Read more articles by Guy Finley in the Counterpoint Article Library at Trans4mind.com.
Guy Finley is the bestselling author of The Secret of Letting Go, The Courage to Be Free, and 40 other works that have sold over a million copies in 20 languages worldwide. His newest book, The Seeker, The Search, The Sacred (2011, Weiser Books) reveals the common thread that runs through every human heart: the wish to unite with the Divine. The book is part of a larger project to share this healing message with the world. Visit www.onejourney.net to learn how you can help change the world.