Knowledge, regardless of its sophisticated nature, is a tool. It arises from and belongs to what has passed. As such it embodies, deﬁnes, and relates us to life through what we already know about the world around us. By deﬁnition, this kind of understanding is limited.
However, no system of thought can stand up to the ever-shifting changes of real life, let alone meet those same changes fearlessly. Regardless how sophisticated its knowledge, the Self that knows itself only through its own conditioned thinking can never develop beyond the content of itself, any more than a math equation can suddenly outgrow the line of symbols responsible for its form.
When we meet life with preconceived ideas about how to respond to what unfolds before us—we are like downhill skiers trying to know when and where to make turns before it snows. But the truth is we can’t know what to do in advance of any given moment.
Real life is not limited to our understanding of what was; it is always new because it’s the expression of a compassionate and living intelligence that actively shapes whatever it touches, as well as whatever reaches out to touch it. You could say that each moment appears, as it does—in whatever its form or color—hard or soft, dark or light—to reveal us to ourselves. How can we hope to learn from such moments, to be transformed and perfected by them, if we meet them with hardened biased views about how they should unfold? No form is free.
And just as one wouldn’t mistake the ladder he must climb for the rooftop from which he hopes to view the stars, neither should we confuse even the most sophisticated spiritual knowledge for those innermost revelations that can come to us only through living in the now.
Genuine self-knowledge is one and the same as being fully self-aware in the present moment. As such, it is never static. This ﬂuid level of Self places no demands on life, therefore it fears nothing that life may reveal. Being fearless, it never has to imagine a freedom “to come,” any more than a river needs to imagine how to ﬂow.
When you are present to yourself, quietly watchful of the relationship that is always unfolding in the present moment, then you have no more need to prepare for what life will bring than a newly opened rose needs to ready itself for the warmth of the sun that comes to release its fragrance.
This article is excerpted from The Courage to Be Free by Guy Finley
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