Freedom on the River of Life

Life has what seem like ups and downs. The more we notice that these ups and downs correspond with an existing mood, which is intimately connecting to our thoughts and the possibilities or limits we have in mind, the more we realize we create our experience of life from our own thoughts. Most people find freedom in this realization. It’s what I call understanding our mind over matter existence.

Another thing that seems to create freedom is the understanding that the river of life is going to flow whether we want it to or not. Sometimes the current is gentle and manageable, our intentions and actions result in desired outcomes, and we seem to be in control. Other times, the river is raging and exerts its influence upon us in more obvious ways, some we perceive as good and others we perceive as bad. In any case, make no mistake. Whether the current seems to be working for us or against, we can’t own, manipulate, or control the current.

I have found that when people try to own, manipulate, or fight the current, they become exhausted and feel helpless. As they battle against it, trying to stay in place or desperately fighting to move in a direction against the current’s flow, they seem to lose their independence. And oddly enough, in losing their independence, they lose their connection to the grand order of life.

Others seems to acknowledge the current of life and flow with it more harmoniously. Perhaps they do not necessarily learn to enjoy the feeling of giving into the current’s force, but they seem to learn how to connect to it and embrace it for what it is. They learn how to dance with it no matter how bullish its behavior. They come to see the current as an essential element of their journey, and as they connect to it, they gain freedom.

Inside-Out Nature

We’ve been taught that the outside world has people, things, and situations (called stimuli) that make us think and feel certain ways. We’ve even been taught that certain stimuli can make us act a certain way. Certain stimuli are supposed to create certain responses from us.

While this seems accurate, the truth is, we aren’t controlled in such a way. Yes, we tend to develop consistent reactions to certain stimuli, but these are internally conditioned responses, not automatic outside-controlled reactions. Our beliefs and expectations play large roles in these responses.

What really happens is that our beliefs and momentary thoughts create our experience of the people, things, and situations of the outside world. Our feelings and actions flow from our momentary thoughts. Therefore, our feelings and actions are not a direct result of the conditions of the world. Rather, our reactions are results of our thoughts about the outside world.

The flow is from inside us to the outside world (this is where the term inside-out comes from). The outside world does not make us think, feel, or act any certain way. Our thoughts and feelings never work from the outside-in. It only seems that way sometimes. Outside-in is an illusion we believe in from time to time.

Our thought, feeling, and action responses vary from automatic to very slow, but they are always subject to change. Thus, we do not necessarily control our response, but we probably have some influence in our response, especially by influencing our beliefs, which help form our momentary thoughts (beliefs along with moods help form our response…more on mood later).

When we believe in the outside-in illusion, we close ourselves to other possibilities. We then think, feel, and act as if we are controlled by the outside world. This is part of the conditioning I mentioned earlier.

When we see the inside-out nature of our experience accurately, we gain clarity of thought and freedom from the outside world. When we gain clarity and freedom, we begin to understand that so many of our conditioned reactions are based on our false belief that we need to battle the outside world’s control over us.

As we begin to understand that we are free from the outside world’s control, we begin to open up to the possibility that we can influence and change our responses to suit our desires. In this clarity, freedom, and possibility, we begin to battle ourselves and the world less, and we begin to flow from our heart, soul, and spirit more.