Ravi Shankar, the brilliantly gifted Indian musician, composer, and master of the sitar, once said: “Life is like a river; it flows. It does not stop because there is a stone.”
Even a mighty river can be diverted by a stone. A series of rocks and stones close together can create a run of rapids, where the river is broken up into a violent explosion of confusion and turbulence that scatters its flow and can make it lose its direction for a while. Yet underneath the appearance of this, the river is still the same living water that has flowed from so many sources through the land and the air. It knows how to get through the rapids in the shallow places, and it also knows how to be calm, deep, and still. It may change its form and even its direction, but it has not changed in its essence, and whether it trickles or flows or rushes, it is moving ultimately to the sea, its true home.
So it is too, with us as human beings. Our path can be diverted from our sense of self and destiny by experiences and circumstances, just as a river is temporarily misdirected by rocks and obstructions in the riverbed. But our true nature never changes, and we can always return to the God Spirit that is inherent within us, just as the rivers all ultimately return to the seas of the earth.
The biggest difference is that we have been given the gift of consciousness, each and every one of us equally, and we can choose in every moment the direction where we want to go next, and begin moving toward it. We do the work that's needed, and we bring with us whatever we have learned from where we have been before. We are always doing this; we are always choosing, whether we know it or not. When we do know it, we can make better choices and happier choices for ourselves, and Life supports our choices. Our job in our own life is to consciously keep on pointing our minds and ourselves in the direction of where we really want to go. The river will always take us there, for what we believe is what we receive.
“What ever is true, what ever is honorable, what ever is just, what ever is pure, what ever is lovely, what ever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. ” (-from Philippians: 8.)
All of life's events are places along the river, opportunities to learn as the river flows on. Learning is why wecame here, and learning is how we grow.