The Straight Path
There is the straight path and there is the wandering path. The straight path is the one lead by the heart and by intuition (otherwise known as Divine Guidance or following God’s Will). The wandering path is the one lead by the monkey mind, the one that runs here and there, curious and interested in exploring places it doesn’t belong. The monkey mind is a time waster and, sorry to say, a pain inflicter. We get an idea and without a second thought, the monkey mind gets hold of it and starts planning and scheming its way to make it happen.
The straight path doesn’t work this way at all. Instead, it follows the lead of the Greater Intelligence--the All-Knowing, All-Seeing--One who has a view of the bigger picture and who knows our place in it. How foolish are we to not yield to this Intelligence, but think we can control and direct our movements without an experienced guide.
The simple truth, while obvious when explained in this way, is veiled to us. We are programmed in school to rely on our intellects to make decisions, with no regard to our intuition or inner wisdom. It is only later, after making a series of painful mistakes that we even begin to suspect that the problem was our faulty decision making. In fact, the responsibility to listen to inner wisdom or follow the impulsive ideas is ALL ours. No one else is to blame. Sure, we didn’t know any better. But not knowing doesn’t save us from the poor choices, does it? We can have compassion for our ignorance, instead of regret. However, it is critical that we own our past decisions and use the wisdom gained to assist us in learning to make better decisions going forward.
What does this mean?
For me, it means to slow down more and really listen. It means not being on automatic pilot when offered an opportunity, especially not using past criteria in which to base future decisions. Rather, to say yes or no to a decision based on the present. This takes time and reflection. This takes really listening to the feelings and sensations around the opportunity. This takes reading the field to see if there are messages and signs that validate and corroborate the opportunity or negate and block the opportunity. Sometimes these messages and signs are subtle and take acuity and precision to align with the flow. Because it’s all about being in the flow, isn’t it? That's when life feels right and when we know where we belong. Stress and strain and struggle are signs that we’re out of that flow and have made a wrong turn (decision) somewhere. It’s good to track back to when things felt wrong to see where we stepped out of the flow. The mind/ego is a stealth character that often sneaks up on us and then derails our plans with distractions and shiny objects. Especially watch out for good ideas! Sometimes the most attractive, cool, fun-sounding ideas are the ones, that if acted upon, lead us astray and cause tremendous suffering.
Think about it.
How often have you had the experience of a good idea sounding great on paper only to discover once you’re in the experience of it that it falls horribly short? In fact, you quickly discover that it’s nothing at all like you thought and sometimes wish you could undo or reverse your decision. It’s usually too late and you have to chalk it up to lesson learned and wisdom gained.
Would you appreciate, at least some of the time, making decisions with certainty, knowing that life, the universe and the Divine were behind it? Think of all the help you would get. If you’ve ever made Divinely Guided decisions, you know what I mean. They have “meant to be” written all over them. You feel that you are in the right place at the right time. There is nowhere else you’d rather be…that type of thing.
Why do anything else?
Because listening to and following Divine Guidance isn't easy and it takes practice. Listening to the monkey mind doesn’t. Unfortunately, that’s become our default. To shift to an intuitive, heart-led life is to consciously choose to listen AND to follow whatever comes through. Of course, this sometimes means going against the grain, coming out of your comfort zone and taking risks. Courage, anyone? To live a life in accordance with the Grand Design, you need LOTS of courage. So, don’t beat yourself up if you’ve been a coward and opted for the shiny objects that have appeared in your life. We all have.
I’m just untangling these threads now. My consciousness is finally ready to sort through the messes I’ve made while being unconscious about all of this. As I sort, I have to also experience the squirmy feelings of regret, shame, sorrow, guilt and so on. It’s part of the territory. However, the medicine of the process makes it worth the discomfort. It is so healing and freeing to own our mistakes and see them for what they are: poor choices. What that does is open up the landscape to a whole new way of navigating the world going forward. In fact, if I really want to stay in the flow and continue on the straight path, all I have to do is to practice staying present. But that’s the easy part. The difficult part is not reacting to all the myriad of things that try to convince us to wander, to follow an idea or please someone or follow their agenda. Now THAT takes discipline! Holding fast to your commitment to say yes to your intuition no matter what means having good boundaries and focus.
Being shaken to the core regularly (at least in my case) also seems to be a aspect of the straight path.
Right when I think I’ve found an opening, a way through, the path shifts and requires me to make an abrupt turn. Nothing is pre-fab or cookie-cutter easy. It’s unpredictable and foggy sometimes, making it feel as though I’m moving through molasses as slow an aging grandma walking across the street with a cane. This slow pace, however serves a purpose. Before making any major decisions—minor as well—I've discovered that its best to pause and listen, and ask for signs BEFORE going forward. The more I practice this the more freedom I’ll have. And after all, freedom is what I’m most passionate about. Not as a destination but as a way of being—the wind beneath my sails, guiding me forward into the next. No need to try anymore, it’s all about following the flow of the river, letting it carry me. Wind and water are both great metaphors because they have incredible power to move things—they can be harsh and fast or gentle as a baby’s breath and tears.
Surrender to what is as is right now, and yielding to my place in the Grand Design is as good as it gets. It’s my practice now. It’s all I’ve got. We’ll see what shows up.