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Don’t Push the River

The path of practice is a long and arduous journey. And while we are all born, it takes many years to fully incarnate. It begins when we leave the aquatic interior of the uterine cave, impelled to breathe air, stand on two legs, and speak in a foreign tongue. At the start, nothing makes sense and we experience the world as a kind of wilderness. As time goes by, if fortunate, we find a trail or two, possibly just an animal track to follow. We then undertake a long and winding pilgrimage, not outward toward the bright and shiny things of the world but inward toward a still and imperturbable center. The contour lines we traverse are unique to each of us. There are many turns of the path including steep grades, switchback climbs, and rock scrambles. En route there are many thresholds to cross, many gates to enter. The most challenging of trials is to march forth unsure of the direction, the distance, or the destination. The soul’s journey does not come with a built in GPS.  Like an 18th century explorer voyaging toward new frontiers, on this path you never know just where you are.
Once departed from the confines of the familiar, there really is no going back. Like a migrating songbird, you have to hone your body and all your senses and follow a thing that can never be seen. The most you have to go on is the sun and the tilt of the planet. Perhaps you follow a subtle vibration, just a single syllabic sound, a sutra, or a few scribbled lines from the old masters. No one can tell you where to go or how to get there. If anyone predicts the journey’s end, know it to be but sleight of hand, like the conjuring of some magician. What you need most is to trust the long arc of time, assured that the path will reveal itself. When you get flustered by the pace of your progress and are eager to get ahead sooner, know that in the lore of Indian mythology, one day in the life of Brahma is equal to 4.3 billion years. So proceed with great patience. Move at the pace of the growth of trees, the speed of moon rise, and the slow drift of shadow across your morning porch. Any urgency will confuse your breath and distract your awareness. Don’t push your own river. Follow its course, trust in its flow, and while holding true to your center, let it take you.
Alchemy + Aim