The River of Life and the Stream of Being
“Going with the flow” is a phrase that is used quite often, in many ways. To go “with the flow” means to go with the current that is already set in motion; often time this refers to an easier path than the one that goes against the flow. In spirituality, we can hear this phrase often as well, for example in Taoism everything comes down to being in line with the divine plan, or divine consciousness – the Tao, which encompasses everything and is “sufficient unto itself”, and some people use the phrase “going with the flow” in the context of surrendering to the Tao.
But besides the usage of the phrase in Taoism, it is also used in other spiritual teachings, particularly in more modern ones such as New Age, modern Shamanism and some others. Many folks see nature as a perfection of divine thought, a goal of the spiritual search, as something that should be embraced and mimicked in order to advance spiritually. In such case, the nature is allegorized as a mighty river that flows towards the sea. It is believed that the sea is the source and that the river of nature is carrying us towards it, and all we need to do is to live according to the principles of nature and we will eventually arrive to that sea. However, we know that it takes more than just loving nature to reach the freedom that we are seeking. In fact, we need to purify ourselves of our lower nature in order to be able to embrace our higher, divine nature.
In the book the Flight of the Feathered Serpent, during one of the dialogues of Jesus and Judas, the two were talking about the role that the Apostles had in the context of spiritual development. Judas then asked him if he prophesied the same for everyone as he did for him, to which Jesus replied:
“No, Judas. Because my kingdom is not of this world. If it were, I would long ago wear a crown even more splendid than that of Solomon. But you will see me crowned as the world crowns every Son of Man. You will cry that day, but your flow of tears will be like a hidden current in the depths of the water of the rivers which, instead of flowing towards the sea, it flows to a source beyond the summits of the mountains. By that stream you live and by that stream you will serve so that others also go up the river of destinies.”
In this reply, Jesus has revealed to Judas a profound teaching about the hidden stream, the stream that is the Way of the Spirit, the way that, instead of ending up in the sea, it flows towards the summits of the mountains, continuing to flow further up. Also, the way that the word “destiny” is here used by Jesus is not same as we would normally think of that word, it is not related to the law of Karma, it is not mechanical thing, but rather it is a purpose that is triggered only then when the soul is achieving the goal of self-realization.
Interestingly, “river” is a common universal symbol that can be shown to us in dream or astral experience when we attempt to reach spiritual awakening. If we are doing poorly in our inner work, we will see ourselves flowing down the river, surrounded by the crowds who are immersed in the material world, the souls who are asleep and who love the pleasure and pain of this realm. However, if we are doing well, we may see ourselves swimming up the river, and hopefully later on, depending on the quality of our work and our choices, we may reach the point where we fly up the river.
The inner work has always been shown in this way – as the path that goes up the river, as the starting point of the real work, of the entrance on the Path, as entering the stream. This stream is a force that leads us upwards instead of downwards; it is the force of the Absolute which pulls us back up. Nonetheless, the forces of the lower realms of Creation have their own momentum; after all, it is described as a river that goes towards the sea.
In order to reach our inner Being, and even the Being of our Being, we need to be determined to navigate in the stream that pulls us upwards, and always being attentive to our situation, knowing that if we do not navigate well, we could fall out of the stream and end up in the river. The river is wide, strong, and full of energies of the material realm, which goal is to sustain the sea into which it flows, to sustain the Creation; whereas the stream, on the other hand, is narrow, is of completely different nature; it is the force of the Being and the Absolute, and it becomes wider and more prominent as we advance in our going up the river, towards the summit of the mountains and beyond.
The river of nature and the stream of the Being have their own gravitational pull; one downward and another upwards. It is easier to go down than up, especially when we are still lacking inside, but when that changes, we learn that up and down are simply two directions that go in different ways. If we are defined for the upward path, then that becomes our gravitational pull, a part of our true nature. Likewise, if we are defined for the downward path, for the path towards the sea, we are carried towards it.
When we look at the Path from this perspective, we understand that the Herculean effort needed to awaken is simply an effort embedded into the stream for which we are already defined, in which we dwell, and for which we know that it is our destiny.
The river that ends in the sea is the path of many births and many deaths; it is the path of life in the Creation. By being in this river we are bound to the laws and the energies of the lower realms in which we move and from which we cannot escape, unless we want to escape it. On the other hand, the stream that leads towards the summit of the mountains and beyond is our unknown destiny in the Spirit, in the higher realms of Creation and of the Absolute. To live by that stream and to serve in it is to be one with that which is real and which is true, within us and outside of us.
HDP, May 2021.