There is no path Print E-mail
News - Final Word
Thursday, 23 February 2012 01:02
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“Traveler there is no path. Paths are made by walking.”

So says poet Antonio Machado. Strange then, isn’t it, the obsession we all have with finding the ‘right’ path? Thinking that the definition of such a path would be one with virtually no obstacles. Believing that whenever we come across a barricade, we’re probably on the wrong path.

Faced with making decisions we often feel that we cannot make a choice if we haven’t first found the right way forward. Well, what if your forward thrust has nothing to do with the right or wrong path, but everything to do with just being yourself?

‘Apple Tree’ author, Colleen-Joy Page, says we should compare it with water flowing down a hill. Water doesn’t look down the hill and first try to find a path free of obstacles. Is there a right or wrong way for the water to flow? No. Does the water stop flowing when it encounters a rock? No. Water just flows where it can.

Colleen says that the water’s flow has little to do with the path it took, but everything with the strength of the flow. A weak flow is easily stopped, but when the flow is strong, water can carve out rocks over time.

The strength of your flow is determined by how closely you align with your true nature.  It is not determined by rearranging your outer circumstances.

The most important thing you can ever do is to be patiently present to yourself in each moment. This, of course, means being present to unwanted feelings caused by unwanted events, instead of immediately trying to manage them out of the way.

If this sounds impossible to you, well, then just look at the way little children deal with events that upset them – another child who grabs their favourite toy, for example. They scream blue murder, but half an hour later two happy toddlers will be friends again. When you simply allow yourself to fully feel your feelings as they come, you tend to let them go easily.

We mostly complicate situations by analysing them, trying to find a right and wrong party, a right and wrong way. As a grown-up it can take great courage to simply allow yourself to feel a feeling with no judgement involved. Say you’re feeling anger. Notice its presence and try to find out where in your body you are feeling it. Don’t try to intellectualise it. Just feel it.

Eckhart Tolle, author of ‘The power of now’ and ‘A new earth’, writes that the main cause of unhappiness is never the situation but your thoughts about it. “Be aware of the thoughts you are thinking. Separate them from the situation, which is always neutral. It is as it is.”

Being fully present is the key to everything, says Eckhart. The future can never be of greater importance because it is an illusion. The more you are focused on time - past and future - the more you miss the now, the most precious thing there is.

So, if the cause of unhappiness is the way your racing mind grabs you right out of the present moment, then what would be the cause of happiness? According to Robertson Davies, Canadian novelist, playwright, critic, journalist, and professor, happiness is always a by-product. “It is probably a matter of temperament, and for anything I know it may be glandular . . . and if you are not happy you had better stop worrying about it and see what treasures you can pluck from your own brand of unhappiness.” 

Happiness depends on conditions being perceived as positive; inner peace does not, Eckhart says. You find peace not by rearranging your circumstances, but being who you are.

That is what puts the forward thrust in the flow of water down a hill; that and not worrying about what you might lose if you choose the ‘wrong’ path. There is no path. You make your own by being you. You can only lose something that you have. Not something that you are.

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