Life is Like A River I

Life is like a river flowing back to the Sea

If our experience as a human is analogous to a journey down a river, then our experience as a spirit is analogous to the entire water cycle. Each of us is like a raindrop which fell from a cloud and ultimately entered into a river for the journey back from where it came – the sea. Then the cycle is repeated.

In the same way that a drop of water is a part of the sea and contains within itself the nature of the sea itself, so our spirit is a part of God containing within it the Whole of God itself. This concept of a something being both a part and the Whole is called in science terminology a fractal.

By becoming a droplet in the water cycle, we can experience wonderful adventures which ultimately help us to understand ourselves and the sea even more. Which river of life we choose to travel down is up to us. Once we begin the journey, we are partly at the mercy of the river and the course it takes us. How we chose to flow down the river is our decision.

This river which represents the course of our life that leads us back to God is an archetype that is familiar to us. Perhaps this is one of the reasons we feel drawn to rivers and why we regarded them as sacred. In ancient cultures, religions and even in near-death experiences, this archetype of life being a river appears. On the river, we are always moving forward from a source and toward an end. Life starts out as a small creek and grows into large river with rapids, forks, tributaries, rocks, and sometimes floods. Rivers have a history and are evolving. The river of life can take us to a variety of destinations on shore. There are many decisions and choices to make while traveling the river. Sometimes we have no choice at all but submit to the mercy of the river. At times we can relax and go with the flow. Other times we can shoot the rapids. We can row our boats gently down the stream. But if we just remain on the shore, we will never reach our destination and goal. Wisdom means knowing the best course of action to take as we travel down the river.

  Someone once asked Deepak Chopra, the famous endrocrinologist and spiritual guru, about the predetermination aspect of this analogy of life being a river. They asked him, “Does this mean that we are born into a pre-determined destiny and if so, why even bother cultivating free will or striving to be faithful?” His answer was:

“This connection isn’t fixed or automatic, it merely represents numerical probability. Our conscious choices help determine our destiny. The deterministic world is ignorance. When we navigate from awareness, we exercise free will. It’s the difference between ignorance and enlightenment. To surrender to divine intelligence, know that everything both comes from God and belongs to God. If life is a river between the banks of hope and despair, our ultimate destiny is to become independent of both, unmoved by either.”

So the future is not fixed in stone but consists of probabilities based on current choices and trends. This answer from Deepak Chopra is another way of saying we choose our destinies.

We chose our river and its destiny before we were born

  A long time ago, I read Betty Eadie’s book “The Ripple Effect” and read the best analogy of “life as a river” I have ever read. It concerns how we choose our destinies before our birth and how it is analogous to standing on top of a very high mountain and looking down upon a vast system of rivers and choosing which river to undertake. From the vantage point of being on top of a mountain, we can get a good view all the rivers from their beginning to their end. As in life, each river has a number of forks and branches to choose from. Some rivers are more challenging while others are less challenging. Some rivers are very dangerous and can lead to disaster. But no matter which river of life we choose before our birth, the river will always carry us back to the sea. This means we are all predestined to eventually return to God. But once we begin our journey down the river of our choosing, we have many choices which are not predetermined.

  Here is the excerpt from Betty’s book describing the analogy:

“Our life is like a river. The destination is set, but the method of our journeying is up to us. We can cruise down the middle of the river at top speed, or we can hug the shore and spin around in eddies. We can crash over rapids or chart a safer path between obstacles. We can slum along the bottom in the mire and slime of sediment, or we can glide along the sparkling surface where the air is clean. The river is ours from birth to death. How we’ll navigate it is determined by the hundreds of small choices we make each day.

“To discover our mission in life we must see challenges as opportunities for growth and then face them head on. Each challenge measures our strengths and progress. Even when trials cause pain or sorrow, we must look for new lessons in the pain and ask God for the power to learn and to grow from it. Suffering focuses our attention on what matters most, and with God’s help, we can strengthen our spirits by learning patience, tolerance and love. These lessons learned, we become co-navigators with God. But when unlearned, we go into the eddies, spinning around, making little progress, even blaming God for our unremitting suffering.”

Betty then addresses how people shouldn’t mistakenly believe that the circumstances of their youth can set an unchangeable course for their river of life. She states:

“But, life is dynamic, and the river stretches and bends as we go. A bad beginning does not inevitably lead to a bad ending. In fact a bad beginning can give us strength to create a good ending.”

She also describes how our past can be a springboard and a resource for accomplishment and the betterment of others. She does this by quoting from a letter someone wrote to her:

Letter to Betty:  “God led me into sobriety from a life of heroin addiction, homelessness, prostitution … In my sobriety, I’ve thanked God many times for these experiences. I know the pain of my clients. God gave me the gift to open the door to his love. For 39 years God was preparing me for this. I know this today because I have peace and serenity I did not know was possible.”

Betty’s response: “She got to know the bottom of the river – the seamy, murky side of life that swallows victims whole and never lets them see the light of day. But through unfathomable effort this woman looked up and found God. With his help she kicked addictions and self-defeating habits out of her life. She fought the undercurrents, disentangled herself, broke the surface of her troubled life and got to a place where pure air and light could provide new energy. She grew strong and rescued others from the depths. Her beginnings then became the basis for a greater good she would do in life. Her wounds became muscles. Her fears became faith. Her mistakes became experience used to benefit mankind. Like her, anyone can choose either to drown in past troubles or to fight to live.”

“Each soul will attain a different level of accomplishment here. But whatever the size of the ripples we make, one thing we must learn is to be grateful for whatever trials and gifts our Father gives us in the journey … Let us be grateful for our childhoods, even for the negative ones. Let us recognize that life is what it is, and that we are all doing our best … We all volunteer for our positions and stations in the world, and that each of us is receiving more help than we know.”

This testimony from Betty agrees with the testimony of many other people who have also had a near-death experience as you will see below.

See Life is Like A River II

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