This famous saying from John Lennon reflects a paradox in our lives. Many of us would like to have a peaceful ride, enjoy the present moment, yet we can’t help but make future plans so we feel secure, or we even spend time digging past hurts. Lennon doesn’t say we shouldn’t make plans, but that the true experience of being alive is beyond those plans, and ‘happens’ to us.
At first view, this seems to negate any personal will, since the right answer to life would be to embrace it instead of trying to direct it, but it might just be that free will should be redirected from the content of our lives to its approach: Instead of using our free will to decide what should come next, we’d use it to choose between ‘ego’ or ‘letting go’, between a life ruled by our mind or a life in tune with a higher intelligence. For most people, this higher intelligence only seems to manifest when their life flows: important meetings happen, synchronicities lead to a new path and something mysterious seems to be pulling the strings. The willingness to not resist whatever life is putting on the road determines how long the ride will last. Then, one day, the ego-mind takes back its throne, doubt arises and the magical path vanishes. Guidance seems no longer there.
To stay on the path we must trust, live in the present, and let go of fear. In other words, behaviors we have not been taught growing up, therefore ‘deconditioning’ is necessary. Learned behaviors are often a source of false security and self-limitation. Unfortunately, any mind work on deconditioning will only take us so far: “you cannot remove a thorn with a thorn” as the Buddhists say. The ego-mind will always fight its way to the director’s seat, reverting to its lower patterns as soon as it is threatened by change. To get rid of the ego is impossible, so the answer is to relegate it as a servant of this higher intelligence.
Trust is the first step: faith is beyond the ego-mind. By trusting something unknown, limitless and wise, you jump over the illusory self-limitations of the mind, hence opening the door to higher guidance and purpose. The place you create from is no longer the result of years of self-definition but the unlimited potential that this higher intelligence has in reserve for you. So co-creation happens at a different level: not the level where your thoughts create your reality but the level where your alignment with the higher intelligence of your life allows you to receive its energy. What you manifest then is no longer the fruit of an illusion, the product of something as fleeting as the mind. You manifest from the higher intent behind your life. True purpose lies outside of the ego-mind’s grasp.
Living in the present is a necessary condition for this higher intelligence to manifest. Calling on past experiences to evaluate something only brings more mind in and ego tries to direct the game again. Wondering about the future makes us want to control it. To live in the present means to not resist life’s experiences, even the painful ones. The wisdom behind most spiritual practices is to see pain as a teacher of letting go. Whether it is the pain of sitting in meditation, of constant thinking or of emotional upheaval, the realization that these pains disappear in an awakened state of consciousness is a perfect training ground for daily life.
As we develop this simple awareness of the present moment and the willingness to experience life without the veil of mind, our fears evaporate. We go from the realm of ego to the realm of being, we surrender to the music and we become the dance. Life happens.
Sophie Rose is a spiritual counselor and the author of The Way of The Heart, Teachings of Jeshua and Mary Magdalene, 2012 National Indie Excellence Award Finalist. She is a contributing author of The Sacred Shift, Co-Creating your Future. Sophie is not aligned with any particular religion or tradition and has always favored a direct experience of spirituality.