Way of the Positive Flow
by Lawrence Vijay Girard
A movie was once made about a man who ran for public office. He was such a long shot for the job that he didn’t pay much attention to what he would do if he got elected. Instead, he concentrated on saying the things that he thought would best get him there. In the end, all of his efforts to get elected were successful. At the end of the movie he completed his victory speech, turned to his aide and asked with uncertainty in his voice, “So, what do I do now?”
How often it is in life that we express those same sentiments to ourselves: So, what do I do now?
We wake up every morning to face untold numbers of expected and unexpected experiences. Much of the time we do not have a clue what the right thing to do is. Maybe if we knew what was coming next we could plan things out. As it happens, even when we do know the basics of what the future holds for us, we don’t always react in the best possible way. Most of the time, we have no idea what is coming next. So…what do I do now?
It has always amazed me that we can go through years of familial, educational and societal indoctrination and still be totally unclear about how to live successfully in this world. Even most religious training leaves vast gaps in our understanding of how to cope with the ups and downs, ins and outs of daily life. All too many of us grow up without knowing how to find practical, workable solutions to the challenges that we face – to say nothing of figuring out how to be dynamically happy.
As children we are given lists of do’s and don’ts to memorize. DO look both ways when you cross the street. DON’T wipe your hands on your pants. DO say thank you. DON’T chew with your mouth open. As we get older the list gets longer and harder to manage because life isn’t as simple as left or right, right or wrong. The basic tenets that we live by make sense most of the time, yet we all have strayed from our lists of do’s and don’ts at different times in our lives. So how can we live with ourselves when this happens? Have we failed our parents, our teachers and ourselves? Or are there times when wrong is right? Or at least, O.K.?
It certainly can be confusing.
In life there are countless situations for which there is no list of do’s and don’ts to follow. What list tells us how to act when we get fired from our job? What do we do when our car stalls in the middle of the freeway during rush hour traffic and we are late for an appointment? How do we choose the right treatment, or lack of treatment, for a dying parent or child? Should we, or shouldn’t we, take a new job, buy a new house, get married, or make any other choice in life.
How do we deal with all of the uncertainties that life will bring us and make decisions that we can feel good about? And on a more subtle level, how do we come to grips with the countless thoughts and impulses that stream through our minds each day in a way that will bring us peace of mind, rather than the hopelessness we feel when complete fulfillment seems always to be just out of reach.
Millions of people go to psychics, psychologists and even prophets each day to find solutions to the challenges that life presents them. For some, it is a genuine call for help at a time of need. For others, it may be an attempt to find an easy way out. In all cases, people are saying in some way, “So, what do I do now?”
As a teenager I spent many hours floating along the shores of California on a surfboard. While my purpose forbeing out on the water was to ride waves, I found that much of the time I was just sitting out there watching the forces of nature do their thing in the sky, on the land and in the water. While I was waiting for a wave to ride, I would study the way all of nature seemed to interact in harmony. I took this observation to heart as I rode the waves. I tried to move in harmony with them, to be a natural part of them, the way a fish swims in the sea or a bird flies in the air.
Over the years I found this approach to surfing entering into the rest of my life. I began to see that flowing with the energies of my experiences on land was not all that different from riding waves on the ocean.
The problem is that most of us have been trained to approach life in a very linear fashion. We analyze the problem, come up with a list of possible solutions, give each possibility a value, and then, add or subtract to find the correct action. While this may work with accounting, it doesn’t come anywhere close to dealing with human relationships or the countless internal struggles that we each wrestle with on a daily basis.
What we need in order to deal with life properly is a way of finding solutions that takes into consideration not only the things that we know about, but also factors that we may not be aware of. This system of evaluation must take into account the best interests of all involved in any given situation. It will also need to take into account our personal capabilities. The solution for one person in any given situation will not always be the same as for another person in the same situation.
When I first started to explore the idea of consciously riding the waves of my life I thought that I was walking in uncharted territory. As I began to actively search for a greater understanding of the subject I found that this was not the case. From time immemorial people have sought to harmonize their individual lives with the forces of life itself.
The most common word that the English language uses to describe these efforts is religion. As I read about the various religions of the world I found that each one thought that they were the only true way. To follow their true way, you had to follow their true list of do’s and don’ts and believe that their leader was the only true leader.
As I mentioned earlier, lists of do’s and don’ts will not give us the kind of guidance that we need to be successful in life; and only one true leader doesn’t cut it either. Common sense tells us that an eternal God would not come to only one group of people during just one time in history. Doesn’t it seem a bit self-serving when someone claims that their way is the only way? And when do they say we will get proof of their “only true way”? When we are gone from this world and can’t come back to tell others whether it is true or not. We need help here and now, not just in the future.
These exclusionary philosophies of unseen future rewards made me gag. I just couldn’t swallow them. So, I dug a little deeper. Instead of reading about religions, I began to read about the lives of those who have been recognized by many as being successful at living life in the best possible way: the saints of all religions.
As I studied the lives of great souls from many different times and religious backgrounds I found something that surprised me. None of them ever preached in a sectarian way. Their disciples might have, but the saints themselves did not. And most importantly, they all said that God – no matter what name we use for God – does exist, and that the main purpose of life is to grow towards our own direct experience of that truth. Another thing that I found was that none of the saints, to the best of my knowledge, ever said, “take my word for it!” They were much more likely to have said, “Don’t take my word for it, realize it for yourself!”
The thing that convinced me to take the inspiration of their lives seriously is the way that they live. The saints surf the energies of their lives with a poise, wisdom, love and joy that we all feel instinctively drawn to. Even without the concept of God, they show the truly wondrous potential that we all have.
As I studied the teachings that sit at the foundation of all great traditions, I found that there are underlying truths that all paths follow. I began to realize that differences between these traditions address issues pertinent to the time and place that a particular saint was present, rather than representing a difference in the underlying truths.
The underlying principles that unite all paths form the heart of the Way of the Positive Flow. No matter what your religious background, or lack thereof, you will find that the application of these ideas and techniques will bring new dimensions of perception and understanding to you. Every aspect of this approach towards life can be personally verified by anyone who applies its precepts.
The Way of the Positive Flow does not represent a “new breakthrough” in the art of living. It is simply a fresh expression of a time tested approach to living that aligns our efforts with the way life itself is made. I invite you to put these ideas to the test in your own life and see for yourself if they are true.