A Fragrant Life

There is a great principle from the wisdom of Taoism—Go With The Flow. In this tradition you can visualize the forces of life as a river that moves as an undercurrent in the Universe and in your life. You can either float with the river or move against it. This is a familiar concept with most of us. The terms, “Go with the flow”, and “paddling upstream” are metaphors that illustrate this.

The other concept from Taoism is of the yin and the yang. Yin is the feminine principle of yielding and receptivity and yang is the masculine principle of action. To form a perfect circle they are in perfect balance and evenly proportioned. This is the ideal make-up of our psyche, equal portions of the feminine and masculine principles at work.

Life is a continual balancing act of acting upon or letting go of. Do we use the masculine principle of action or the feminine principle of yielding? What is called for in any given situation? Finding a balance of action and rest, serving and being in-filled with Spirit, back and forth, is the process of flow.

If we spend all of our time in meditation and devotion and have no outlet for service, we become like a stagnant pond. If we spend all of our time in giving and never take time to stop, rest, and be filled up, we grow stale—neither one smells very good or looks very attractive.

If your life has started to take on an unpleasant odor, you might consider that something is out of balance. Where are you fighting against the flow? I know, in the United States, we have a strong Protestant work ethic that keeps us on the job more than any other country in the world. We seem to have something to prove to ourselves. I wonder what it is? Do we think that life will unravel if we are not working constantly? Do we think the planet will stop evolving if we stop to rest?

Taking time for spiritual practice is a good example of exercising the feminine principle of yielding. Isn’t that what we do when we sit down and open our hearts and minds to sacred writings, take time to be still in meditation, and open our hearts to Spirit in prayer? To balance this we take what we learn and the gifts of understanding and inspiration that Spirit has shared with us and we act upon it in giving to others. This is exercising the masculine principle.

You can see that in order to have a fragrant life, you must have a good balance of both the masculine and the feminine principle of giving and receiving. Get out of balance on either side and you can compare it to a wobbly, lop-sided wheel. You will just clunk down the road. Going back to the analogy of the river, without an intake and an outlet, you get backed up! Go with the flow!

There are many rewards in our culture for taking action. Ego is rewarded and encouraged with promotions and accolades. There are not as many obvious rewards for taking time for spiritual practice. The rewards, of course will spill out into your life in the form of beauty and balance, but the general public won’t necessarily hail them.

During the life of Christ there came a critical turning point in His ministry. The people were looking for a man of action—someone who would help them throw off the cruel yoke of Roman rule. Christ appeared to be a man of action. He could heal the lame, raise the dead, and blind their enemies with supernatural light. When He made it clear that He came to change people’s hearts and help them to love all people, many followers fell away. They were not interested in a spiritual kingdom.

To have true balance in one’s life is to open the heart to the idea of a spiritual kingdom within one’s self. It is having the Christ power live within us. It is learning from the Master Teacher how to give to others and how to be filled up with Spirit. It is allowing the flow of Spirit to lead you to where you need to be when you need to be there. It is surrender to a greater life.