Isn’t it possible that any path is valid? Or that two or more may be equally valid for you to take?
The path for you
depends on what you want and need most. The universe just always gives you what you really need, and then it is you who must plan, decide, and take action.
You Choose the Path…
This is not to say that you do not choose the path, but rather, you create it consciously to a large extent, and then the universe supplies the rest of the way.
For instance, if you are building and running a business, you choose, create, and deliver the products in question, and you market those products to a particular group of people.
However, you have only so much control over which consumers/clients choose to connect with you at all.
… But You Don’t Create Everything on it
When you write up a business plan you (probably) don’t say, “Okay, first we’re going to sell to this person, and then this person, and then this one…”
No-- instead, you form an idea in your mind of who your clients are going to be, you make an effort to reach out to that group of people, and from there you just have to see who shows up. You cannot force anyone into doing business with you, even if you can manipulate them into it. Plus, especially if you have an online business, you cannot fathom exactly who is going to show up. While you exercise great control over it, this matter is not 100% in your hands.
So it is with the path. I can choose to run a race, as well as exactly what workouts I will do everyday leading up to it. Each step I take is something I create: but do I create the woods or the road? Do I influence how many cars will go by me today, or whether I’ll run into a flock of turkeys in the woods? From an objective standpoint, no, I do not.
When I leave my house I can’t be sure of exactly how long I’ll want to run for once I’m out there, even if I intend on doing 10 miles. In addition, I can plan exactly where I’ll go for all of those 10 miles, but I can’t be sure that that’s what I’ll want to do once I get out there, or that I’ll even be able to go that way (or, if you’re basing it off Google Maps, that it even exists! Ha ha ha very funny…).
The basic plan for the path, along with each step I take on the way, are mine. But ahead of time I can’t totally predict what each step entails.
Even if there is an exact minute plan of what is going to happen, or if there are all these things which you are supposed to do (e.g. here are all the classes you need to graduate; now, go do them), you cannot be certain ahead of time of the actual experience of that path. Even if the path is pre-cut objectively, but how can you be sure of the subjective experience of the path-- that is, how you’re going to feel, and what you’re going to want and need along the way?
Even if you get rid of the subjective dimension (i.e. thoughts, desires, needs), there is still uncertainty. What if trees fall down and block the path? What if evil crazy bears lurk in the bushes and await your arrival? What if the grumpy old troll doesn’t let you cross the bridge?
Do you think Dora knew exactly when Swiper was going to show up, and shit was about to go down (at least, before the music started playing)? Think of how surprised she always was to see him. She may have pinned down the exact three locations she had to hit that day, and maybe Swiper showed up every single day, but she had no idea when exactly it would happen. As a result, she was always surprised.
Predict and control are futile ends. Intention and power, along with acceptance and adaptability, are much better.
Serving the Best Interest
So what does all this have to say about a valid path? Think about what it is that you need and want most at this time, and what form will be best for realizing those wants/needs.
Deciding to pursue both a subjective desire and its objective form means about the same as forming an intention. Then, through a combination of planning and action, you work toward that intention. Of course, this intention must be clear and be backed by you consistently-- otherwise it will be difficult to exert your will and use your power impeccably.
Simultaneously you must accept and adapt to whatever shows up along the way- whether it be barricade or speed boost, internal or external- because you do not have total control over that. A need to control signifies insecurity, which is weakness. True strength is power aligned with love.
Here’s what I mean. What you perceive to be in your best interest may not be in line with the collective interest. The universe will always try to steer you toward the collective best interest. When you cooperate and willingly steer yourself toward the collective best interest, bam-- magic happens.
Collective best interest means that you are included. What is in the best interest of the collective is in your best interest. What is in your best interest is in the best interest of the collective.
How is this so? To serve the collective, you must give to it. You can only give what you have. Few things are more pleasurable than giving what you have. On that same token, few things are more displeasurable than trying to give something you don't have.
A desire is something you have. Values are something you have. You can give what you desire to. When you try to give something, based on values that you don't really have, you will suffer-- and the world will not benefit from it.
An example of trying to give something you don't have is starting a company in order to make a lot of money, when you don't really value making money. You've told yourself one story after another about all the wonderful, humanitarian things you can do with that money. But the reality is that you don't really care. You believe you can perform more valuable forms of public service than donating money. You desire to do something for its own sake, and not merely for an outcome.
When you decide to live up to your real desires, you'll be better able to serve the collective best interest than if you had merely done what you thought you were supposed to do. When you try to give what you don't have, you'll eventually sabotage yourself. You'll try to put a stop on the thing. Plus, your output will be tainted. You won't really do your best work. It won't be long before someone with more congruent desires comes along to replace you. You'll be dispensable, because your creativity will be constricted.
Creativity is what allows you to make a unique contribution to the world. The more creativity gets squelched, the more similar we all are to one another-- and the more similar we are, the more we are forced to compete.
Competition comes about when two people are trying to do the exact same thing. The only way for these people to increase their value is to get better at going through the motions than their opponents. They have to become better robots.
Creativity is important not only for the uniqueness it enables. To be creative is to step into the powers available to a conscious being (i.e. you). When you fully exercise your consciousness, you don't just make objective dents in the world-- you send out ripples into the subjective piece of reality, as well. You encourage people to feel and think about life differently than they ever have before.
By your creativity, you enable others to be more creative as well. By your use of consciousness, you elevate the consciousness of others. Altogether, we become more aware. Growth comes about by the exercise of consciousness. When we choose to be aware, we grow.
On the subjective plane, this is what is in the collective best interest-- the increase of awareness. By your awareness, you become more powerful. When you become more powerful, you can share that power with the rest of us. Then we can use that power to make our world a better place.
Growth, Service, and Experience
Aren't there a number of ways you could go about serving consciousness, if you decide this is a valid path for you to take? Of course! There are countless ways you can do this.
The path for you is based on what you deem you need and want most, and where that intersects with what others need and want most. This is the intersection between what can be given, and what gifts are desired.
If you decide to serve the collective best interest, it will be your responsibility to walk in the intersection between your desires and the desires of others. This intersection is dynamic. It is ever-changing based on changes in desires, which is bound to happen as reality plays out. You will find yourself more in line with one, at times, than the other.
For the last several years I’ve been far more on the path of my own growth than that of service. I won’t try to rationalize that away, but without that growth I’m not sure I’d be able to serve too well. At just the right point (the intersection!) the two fuel each other, and the results produced this way are greater than they ever could be by focusing on one path alone.
Your path- the valid path- conjoins not just service and growth, but also what you’d like to experience.
Experience is your little preference-piece of the puzzle—the part where you decide on what the small details, or maybe even the big picture, will look like. Your experience of service and growth is just as important as actualizing the two themselves. Your experience of them is all you have of them anyway. Your experience is a good gauging point of how “on” the path you are. If you’re more miserable than not, you probably are not doing what you need to be.
The Pain of Growth
Pursuing service and growth still might sound dry to some people. It might sound like a lot of hard work and misery without much pleasure. This is totally false. If you live in perpetual misery you probably are not learning what you need to be, and your abilities to serve are substantially limited. The process of growth can be painful sometimes, but this is due mostly to shame, fears, and inaccurate beliefs of how things are and how they should be. The point of growth, in fact, is to grow past these things, so that you can see reality more accurately.
The pain of remaining in the hold of those beasts is far more to endure than defying or transcending them. Isn’t taking up a challenge far more exciting than choosing to remain complacent anyway? Plus, doing just that- side-stepping and ultimately dissolving your fears and beliefs- is immensely liberating and fulfilling. This is the way to joy.
If truth is painful to you, you don’t really have the truth. Sure, maybe your husband really did sleep with someone else, and it’d be so much better if you just didn’t know, but prolonged misery means that you probably are viewing this event in the wrong light. For all you know this is both a sign and an opportunity for you to get the heck out of this relationship and go meet amazing people. It might also be the catalyst for you to develop a stronger and more honest relationship with your husband. You can still allow yourself to be upset over the event, but don’t these possibilities just sound like magic? Maybe an affair is just what you needed after all. :)
You won’t feel good 100% of the time: that’s because, as I said, growth can be a painful process. But it isn’t always, and it ultimately is fruitful. You will be glad you have learned what you have, and through the experience that you have had.
The general pain and difficulty should decrease over time as you learn more, enhance your abilities (e.g. courage), and form a more accurate perception of reality. If you don’t feel joy at least some of the time, something may be out of line. If you have chronic pain, so to speak, chances are that you have a misperception and are continually not doing what you need to.
The pain of truth is nothing compared to this. Most people know chronic pain well; they just may not see it for what it is (i.e. why it is there). They may believe it to be an inherent part of life, which is false. All pain is a message, trying to alert you to something. If you do not fulfill the need which created the pain, how can you expect it to go away?
The Larger Path System
When it comes down to it, you can kinda just tell whether you’re on the right path or not, based roughly on growth, service, and experience. You know in your heart.
Remember that the path is always shifting. The lessons you need to learn change, your abilities increase, something you haven’t been giving attention to needs it, the experiences you want to have change, and the way that you can best serve changes. These all change in accordance with one another. Walking your path means that you heed these changes.
It might seem that this new path could hardly at all connect to the one you were on 10 years ago, or even the one you’ve just been on. But they all are part of the same forest, and they connect somehow. There isn’t total nothingness or impossibility in between them.
We can and do exist only within the boundaries of this larger path system that we call consciousness. You cannot leave it, for if you were no longer conscious, you would no longer be. So why not listen to this consciousness?
If running in a forest you wouldn’t wish it to be some other forest with some other set of trail systems. You would heed the layout of the forest you’re in and follow it as it is. Defy it and you shall remain lost. Listen to it and you can embark on the adventure of a lifetime. Which would you rather choose?
All in all, the valid path, you see, is really two: mine, and yours. They shall meet only by your will.
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