To Feel Alive, BE a Flowing River

To Feel Alive, BE a Flowing River

Imi Lo
June 5, 2018


Rather than being a static object, life is more like a flowing river.

A stream that is healthy and alive runs as nature intended — it hits the bank on the left, then on the right, and regardless of the changing seasons, gravity keeps it moving forward.
It does nothing, strives for nothing, but it is perpetually unstoppable.

Our emotional life is like that.
To feel alive, we ought to let the current of feelings enter us.
We lean on the left, then on the right, and aliveness is found somewhere in between.
If we cling only to one dimension, one side of the river, the watercourse will get blocked, flooded, and eventually die out.

If we fixate on only wanting happiness, the search for endless sensual pleasure might end up trapping us in addictions.
If we attach to only wanting peace, we might find relationships so messy and unpredictable that we end up locking ourselves in a lonely void.
If we only want what we regarded as good and reject, resist or spiritually bypass the rest, we would eventually feel nothing but numb and disconnected.
The opposite of joy is not pain, but a painful emptiness in which we are merely watching life go by without being in it.

Life is not a static state, but a constant movement.
To meander through our emotional life, we can learn to become less discriminating towards our feelings.
We may practice loosening our judgments, releasing the need to label things as good or bad.
Because there really isn’t a good or bad.
All feelings, just like the two river banks, are parts of a complementary whole.

Rather than wanting love and rejecting anger, we come to see there can be no authentic love without also allowing the flame of anger.
Anger can deepen our acceptance and the capacity to love if we let it.
A relationship is enlivened when differences are allowed, frustrations are aired, and conflicts are released.
Anger does not cancel love. They are not against each other, rather one complements another.

Rather than seeking gain and fearing loss, we shall reflect on how we often gain by losing, and lose by gaining.
Gaining anything — pleasure, possessions, acquaintances, reputations — creates attachments, and the fear of losing them weighs us down.
Losing things gives us a chance to be back in touch with our essential nature, which is infinitely more adaptive and resilient than we think.
We remember that we have come from nothing, and will leave this planet with nothing.
The real us, aligned with nature, outside of society’s conditioning or parental expectations, is born light and free.

There is no light without dark, no dawn without dusk.
Pleasant and unpleasant feelings are just like everything else in life: beauty and terror, long and short, high and low, masculine and feminine, breathing in and breathing out. They create each other, shape each other, define each other, complete each other.

If we can see all emotions as parts of a complementary whole, we realize that we do not have to fight, or control anything.
No matter what happens, the natural force of life is carrying us through in the exact right direction, exact right time.
There is no need to hurry, or to hold on to any one mood.
We can relax, and be like a flowing river — hitting the left bank today, hitting the right bank tomorrow, with little judgment, and perhaps a slight preference for either.

Be alive, like a flowing river.

Imi Lo


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