The conversation touches on many diverse themes but always circles back to who we are and how our purposes are intertwined, for it is only when we see that our personal desires are perfectly aligned with the destiny of humanity as a whole that we will give ourselves full permission to enjoy the most exquisite experiences life has to offer.” 25.
The Flower In the village flower shop on the island of Allandon the mason was looking through the selection of flowers and, finding nothing to his satisfaction, waded out back where the florist was tending to her extensive garden. “I have a special request,” the mason said. “Cut me a fresh flower that has just reached perfection.” “No problem,” said the florist. She smartly clipped one of the nearby flowers and handed it to the mason with a smile. “No, I don’t think so,” the mason said. “This flower is still too green; the buds haven’t opened enough.” The florist moved quietly to another flower bush, again cut one off and gave it to the mason.
The mason looked at the flower in dismay. “Can’t you see this flower has already started to decline? The petals are wrinkled and it’s falling apart,” he said, shaking the flower and spilling some of the seeds from its mouth.
The florist calmly picked up one of the seeds from the ground and held it out in her open palm. “Perhaps this is what you’re looking for.” The mason shook his head. “What’s wrong with you? Can’t you tell when a flower is perfect?” “Of course I can tell when a flower is perfect,” the florist said. “I just can’t tell when it’s not.” I have been in the habit of trying to figure out how life works for most of my adult existence. This probably started from my acute inability to flow with life when I was younger. I was confused and fearful, and my only defense at the time was to try to understand it in order to control it. This was a fairly solitary pursuit, for often when I attempted to have conversations with my friends about it they would tease and rebuke me for being overly ‘intellectual’. I find it happily ironic that my persistent reflection, reading, and practices—driven by insecurity though they may have been—helped me come full circle to a place where I no longer feel the need to try to control life. In fact I now hold an unwavering conviction inside me that life is perfect just the way it is. It is a belief that is ever strengthened by my ongoing experiences, like a potter’s urn fired in a kiln. Today, if I ever notice myself feeling down or discontent with my life, I know that it is because of who I am choosing to be in that moment and not about life itself. Life is like the sun, which continues to shine even when it is hidden by clouds and we see only rain. It always is and always will be an opportunity to experience new heights of joy, exuberance, and passion. Life stands ready to offer us its bounty in all situations. That does not mean to say that things always go in my life the way I want them to. My Ego Self takes me on rides to far away places—far away from my true self, that is—and as a result it can be quite a struggle to return to a place of peace and centeredness, a place where I really do feel at my best. If I am struggling with anger, sadness, jealousy, fear, guilt or despair, sometimes all I need is to remember to ask myself the question: Have you forgotten that life is perfect? No matter how badly things have gotten for me, I will never deny this. This conviction helps me to accept that whatever is happening to me in the present moment is exactly what needs to happen, and becoming more conscious in the moment will eventually be enough to pull myself out of the manhole I have slowly and inconspicuously slid into.
The Ego Self fights the idea that ‘life is perfect’ tooth and nail. For the Ego Self life is dangerous, because we are alone. We need to learn strategies to cope, compete well, and make tactical alliances while being careful who we trust. When something happens that we don’t like we must call it bad, wrong, or unjust—presumably to prevent it from happening again. Our Ego Self might cleverly argue that if life were perfect then we wouldn’t need to do anything. We wouldn’t try to make our lives or the lives of others any better. We would become complacent, apathetic, bored. We wouldn’t need to change. This is just the kind of reactive thinking that we need to save ourselves from, a thinking that says we have to wait for the pain of a relationship or the boredom of a job to be intolerable before we are willing to take on the discomfort of making a change. When we step back out of the clutches of the Ego Self and into our Dao Self, that is to say when we become more conscious, we see that it is our resistance to change, sponsored by the Ego Self, that is causing the suffering and preventing us from seeing that life is perfect the way it is. When we become more conscious, we can shift from beings who change because we have to into beings who change because we want to. Instead of being driven by a fear of the suffering of life we are driven by a love of the rapture of life. Change is actually embraced when we are in the flow of life, because as we have said, life is change.
The desire to change something does not first require our condemnation of it as something wrong or bad. In my experience, condemning something and making it wrong has never changed it or made it better. If anything, it brings hopelessness and causes the painful situation to persist. I was once coaching a client around her desire to change a situation and move forward in her life. We went through a visualization process that helps to free the client up to see the source of the problem. In her visualization she saw herself stuck, trying to climb out of a heavy pool of mud. In the distance, she envisioned a clean, vibrant oasis, which represented where she wanted to get to. She was very unhappy and frustrated with being stuck. Her eyes were looking forward towards the oasis but she seemed to be unable to dislodge herself. When I asked her about the experience of being in the muck she just kept saying how difficult it was for her to get out. She described how awful the feeling of being stuck was, how much effort it was taking to try to move out of it with no avail. After a few moments something came to me. I suggested that before trying to get out of the muck, she might try to be OK about being in the muck for a while, and describe what it felt like. In other words, I wanted her to pretend that things were perfect in the moment. She was a bit surprised by her own resistance to this at first, but she visualized being still, and stopped struggling with what was bad, what should not be, long enough to speak about what it actually felt like to be in the muck. To her surprise, the muck was no longer so uncomfortable once she had settled into it. After we had done that, I asked her what happens next. With great excitement, she saw herself suddenly flying out of the muck with a full burst of energy, and getting easily to the paradise on the horizon. This was the trigger she needed. When we ended the visualization with her moving happily towards the oasis, she felt that she was no longer stuck in her real life. She saw the possibility for enthusiastic action, and the next time I spoke to her she told me that she had already made important progress.
The powerful lesson we both took from that session is that in order to have any power to make changes, we must first acknowledge and accept where we are in the moment, in the now, the wellspring of the perfection of life. When we look upon the cycles of nature, we can see the stage of each moment cannot be ‘wrong’. We can appreciate that no season is better or worse than the next, no phase of the moon or time of day is the ‘right’ one.
They are all essential parts of their respective rhythms. But when we try to apply this principle to our lives, it is easy to miss the perfection. We don’t see the times we have become depressed, or the times we have fallen ill, or the times other people let us down as part of the perfection. We believe that there are a great many things wrong in the world, direly and desperately evil and unjust, and feel the need to fight against and destroy these things if we are to get where we are going. In actual fact, this only blocks us from where we are going. When we are so serious about the game of life that we forget it is a game, we also lose our appreciation for the fact that life has been set up for the benefit of all of us. If we keep a clear mind and an open heart, we can see that we always have within ourselves the faculties to meet and overcome any of the ongoing challenges that life provides. When we learn any sort of game, which stage of it is really the most satisfying, the most joyful? Is it the beginning, when we are just getting familiar to the rules and are open to the new challenges that lie ahead? Is it soon after, when we first show signs of proficiency and have evidence of our improvement? Or is it when we come close to mastery of the game? I would suggest that the stage of life that is the most satisfying and joyous is always the one you are at in the moment. That’s where the perfection in the universe lies.
The stage you are at in this moment is exactly where you need to be; it is the source of your greatest possible experience in life. It is only when we look away from the moment, to the aspirations of the future, to the way things ought to be, or to the passing of a time gone by, the way things should continue to be, that we are taken out of the potential wonder of the present moment. When we lose sight of the perfection of life it is even possible to take the miracle of the flowering of human consciousness and turn it into nothing more than a dire race to save ourselves and our planet from extinction. Now true, I do believe that we are being called upon today to save our planet, what I’m saying is that we don’t need the guilt or shame or despair of having been inactive up to now. As big and as urgent as saving our planet might seem, it is still just a part of the game, set up for the benefit of the individuals within it. From a higher perspective, we see that we are participating in the biggest, fullest cycle in the universe: our separation from and return to the Dao. And it looks like we are well on our way. We are sitting somewhere on a timeline of eternity. Does it really matter where we are on this line, at some point between the beginning and the end? From this perspective, there is nothing ‘wrong’ in the world now.
The world is perfect just the way it is.
There is nothing we should do.
There is nothing we have to do. We can do as we desire. We are free to choose. This is the way it has always been. This is only just now dawning on us, as we enter a new level of consciousness. Life is what we make it. Literally. We give meaning to it, we are capable of shaping it with our own vision. At the same time, our lives have a common thread. We have all come here to explore our darkness and bring our light to it. That is the process of expanding consciousness. Our darkness is our karma, the mechanism by which our path in life is drawn up. We take on our darkness one small piece at a time, as we become ready for it. Each time we shine our light intensely on that piece of darkness it crumbles and evaporates. We are reminded over and over again that this darkness is not real. Each time we do this we get an ever-clearer glimpse of who we really are. But how we get there is up to us.
There are an infinite number of ways to play. If we see life as a race, our darkness is the obstacle we have to move around and through. If life is a play, the darkness of our character is the basis for the drama. If life is a classroom, our darkness is our ignorance of what we need to learn. It’s why we play all these games in life, because we know deep down inside of ourselves that life literally is such a game, the grandest game, and all these other things that we invent and play help us to engage fully in our lives. Do you get a thrill from climbing to the top of a large mountain? Then let your life be that climb. Do you get the highest satisfaction in honing a great talent, like becoming a revered painter or talented musician? Then let life be this path of mastery. Is your fulfillment found in nurturing and teaching the young, so that they may enjoy the greatest fruits the world has to offer? Then let your life be the unfolding of your love. We have chosen this life. We come here for entertainment, adventure, the unique experience of being alive in human form. Let your life be a celebration of that! There is a story that is not being told about our environment, and it's leading to proposing solutions that will likely cause even further damage to our environment. Regenerate, a CETV original, reveals this hidden story, and encourages humanity to reconnect with nature. This is the story that must emerge. Watch The T.
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