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A glass of water is a symbol of what it holds because the glass is transparent, like the water. The small, rigid container of the glass allows us to drink this finite amount of water, separated out from the plumbing, treatment plants, rivers, oceans, weather systems, our own bodies and the rest of the planet’s fauna and flora through which it endlessly circulates. Language must be like that glass if it is to ‘serve’ to us a finite amount of the endless invisible ‘inner’. Somehow it must have the same quality of transparency. And the most frequently used metaphor to describe the invisible qualities of consciousness is water:

“And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal,proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb” Revelation 1.22

The pure river of water of life indicates something flowing, moving. In the Book of Revelation, John is describing his vision. He is ‘seeing’ or being shown a symbol of something. Rather like a dream, the symbolism does not make much literal sense because the images are evoking what is invisible and interior to us. The “throne of God and of the Lamb” is the ‘seat’ of our conscious awareness. The river of life, that which moves out of the throne, is another way of evoking in words the inner dimension which Govinda called ‘universal consciousness’. So there is something still and something moving. Something constant and something changing. In fact Govinda also uses the analogy of a river to emphasise the moving, dynamic nature of consciousness: ‘consciousness… can be compared to a river which in spite of its continually changing elements, keeps up the direction of its movement.” And, using more simple terms, Emerson wrote: ‘Man is a stream whose source is hidden.‘

The stillness and the movement are connected. We have to becomestill, balanced, in order to feel the movement. And once again, this quality of stillness, or ‘presence’ is also often depicted in terms of water:

“The calm mind, like still water, accurately reflects all that comes before it.” Zen & the Martial Arts Newsletter newsletter/zen.php

The ‘calm mind’ is like the balanced quality of ‘intuitive mind’. This is the ‘throne’, which is still and constant, and through which the flow of the rivercan be felt and its direction in terms of thought and intuition discerned.

Often, some form of meditation is taught or recommended as a way to become still, because by quieting thought and involvement with the outer world, it is easier, to begin with anyway, to become aware of the presence of and flow from the inner world. The initial need for quietness or stillness can make it seem as if the flow from this inner world is delicate. But in fact it is very strong, and therefore trying to resist it is like pushing against a very powerful force: we can’t really do it. In the beautiful words of the Hopi Indians’ prophecy, this flow is not only to do with individual experience but is likened to the whole movement of a culture or a world through time.

“There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold on to the shore. They will feel they are being torn apart and will suffer greatly. Know the river has its destination. The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our heads above the water.”

The old ways of clinging to the shore, to the outer world of what has already formed, won’t work as this current picks up and intensifies. We just end up feeling like we are being pulled apart. The point of becoming still is that instead of resisting this flow, we learn to line up consciously with it.

Another way to think about all this is by using an electromagnetic analogy. When objects become electrically charged, they can be either positively or negatively charged. Two objects that have been charged alike will repel each other, while two objects that have been oppositely charged will attract each other. Anyone who has played around with magnets knows this. The positive ends of the magnets repel each other, but if the positively and negatively charged ends are put together, they join. My son had a wooden train set whose carriages joined together with small magnets. The right way round, they clicked together; the wrong way round, he could not get them to join.

If we think about the invisible flow from the ‘inner’ as a positive charge,as if it is a link in that train set, then one aspect of our field of awareness must be negatively charged or ‘responsive’ to that positive current in order to join with it. And, if this happens, the other ‘side’ of that field of awareness will itself be ‘positive’ to the next link, which in this analogy would be the ‘outer’ world. But, if the reverse happens, and we become ‘negative’ or responsive to the outer world, to the environment round about us, then we will be ‘positive’ to the life flow. And as that flow carries a positive charge, if we become positive towards it, we will be repelled from it because two positive charges repel each other. Simultaneously, we will be ‘joined’ to the world around us — ‘bound to the world of the senses’ — so that the outer world then becomes the ‘positive’ controlling influence on us:

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positive to inner flow= negative to outer world

> repelled from flow< =<controlled by the environment>

What this feels like can vary. Sometimes it can get us high with excitement, but more often than that, it feels like bondage or confusion. We don’t seem to have control over what happens to us. We may start to feel overwhelmed by what is going on around us, which can turn into the belief that we are at the mercy of events, or, worse, that we are dependent on what is going on around us for our sense of well being. In the most extreme cases we can end up physically and emotionally addicted to people or substances in our world.

But if we reverse polarity and become ‘negative’ to the flow, we become joined to that instead, and, simultaneously, become ‘positive’ to the outer world. Then we line up with the flow itself, so that we bring that energy into our worlds. We line up with the flow by becoming aware of it. When we become aware of something, we become responsive to it. This quality of responsiveness is, using the electrical analogy, the equivalent of the negatively charged current. Not negative in the sense of destructive, but negative in the sense of that which joins with the positive:

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negative/responsive to inner flow= postive to outer world=

> embody the flow>= >flow transforms environment>

The negative charge of our awareness of the flow joins or blends with its positive current; and this in turn means that we become positively charged towards the outer world. We re-present the positive current of the core flow to our world and as a result, the world around us comes alive in a new way. This is when we feel confident, optimistic, ‘positive’. We feel more in control of our lives, clear headed, able to see how to move ahead. We have lost our ‘resistance’ and essentially we feel happy, ‘sunny’, and, as I already described, things around us light up.

It is as if the field of conscious awareness, or ‘manas’, has a design or a circuitry to it. And if that circuitry gets switched around, the process malfunctions. The work is to feel out the way in which we are becoming ‘charged’. To sense when we are emotionally in tune with the positive current of the flow, or when we are starting to ‘tune’ to beliefs and events in our lives, which do not always match the frequency of the flow, and therefore can switch our polarity around in unhelpful ways. What we’re learning to do is to line up with the fundamental energetics of being, so that we don’t automatically hand our ‘fate’ over to circumstances but are mindful that there is a factor within ourselves that can often modify those circumstances.

Staying in conscious alignment with the flow not only brings the world around us alive, it also draws to us what belongs in our lives and repels what does not belong. In essence, what happens is that when we exude the positive current of our core energy, only those people and circumstances that are in resonance with that energy can come close to us. I stumbled more or less instinctually upon the way this works when I was a young teenager and would often be followed when walking home in the evenings from a friend’s house or the local youth club. After one fairly close shave when I eluded a more aggressive would-be assailant by knocking on a lighted house and asking for a lift home, I realized I had to do something to change what was happening. What I did was shift my internal energy. Instead of a slightly fearful, hesitant , anxious or even apologetic I-hope-you-don’t-notice-me atmosphere, I adopted a confident, I-am-definitely-here ‘vibe’ — and it worked. I was not followed anymore.

Even though I made this shift, I still acted foolishly once by accepting a lift home from strangers. The circumstances made me drop my guard: it was broad daylight, the middle of the afternoon, and it was a couple, a man and a woman, in the car who pulled up to ask me directions to the nearby town center. After I told them, they offered me a lift as I was walking in that direction and I accepted. I did find it a little odd that the woman who had been in the front got out and sat beside me in the back of the car, and I also noticed that there were no door handles. I had a sense that possibly something wasn’t right, but I allowed no current of fear to enter me and maintained a kind of light-hearted, airy, deliberately innocent atmosphere, giving them directions until they dropped me off outside my home. Next day, while having tea after school at my friend’s home, we read in the local paper about a couple who were giving lifts to girls and then taking them off to a secluded spot where the woman would assault them, at knifepoint! I had forgotten completely about my strange ride home, but reading the news story, I realized they were the same people. Fortunately I had developed a mental habit of looking at car number plates and forming words out of them, so I could remember what their number plate was. My friend and I went straight up the road to the police station, and I gave them a good description of the couple, their car and the number on the plate. And they were caught!

Most likely in the eyes of my parents, my friend’s parents and the police detective, I had just been very lucky. But I knew beyond doubt in myself that I had consciously monitored that situation, and kept myself untouchable. I had been the one in control — the woman had not been able to get ‘near’ me in a vibrational sense, even though she was sitting right next to me.

Looking back at these incidents what is interesting to me is that I understood, inherently — without consulting anyone else — what the dynamics of the situation were. And I think this illustrates an important point, which is that living in right polarity is a natural wisdom for all of us. We already know about the circuitry of the flow, and that also means that living in alignment with it is not a difficult process or one that needs years to master.

Written by

British/American poet and writer who draws on archetype to explore our identity. Author ‘Coherent Self, Coherent World.’

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