Viewpoint: Follow the Flow

By Betty Bland

Originally printed in the MAY-JUNE 2006 issue of Quest magazine. 
Citation: Bland, Betty. "Viewpoint: Follow the Flow." Quest  94.3 (MAY-JUNE 2006):44-45.


Theosophical Society - Betty Bland served as President of the Theosophical Society in America and made many important and lasting contributions to the growth and legacy of the TSA.

When a magnet is held near metal filings, the filings flow into different patterns, depending on the location, strength, and polarity of the magnet. Even after the obvious pattern has formed, there are usually a few stragglers that hop, skip, and jump into place at the last minute, as if they had been held back, or were asleep when the first tug came. But they cannot resist the constant pull of an almost magical invisible force, undetectable by our five senses.


Each of us is like a magnet in the way we repeatedly attract similar people and circumstances. Just as soon as one bad relationship ends, another takes its place. When we escape negative issues in employment one place, we find the same in another. You can often discover how well a new resident will like a town by their answer to the question, "How did you like where you just came from?" Wherever we go, we carry a kind of attraction for similar outcomes. Karma and habitual attitudes follow us like the cloud of dust seen over Pigpen, the Peanuts cartoon character who never takes a bath. Sometimes, it may seem that we have a sign over our head that says, "Hit me!" or "Sock it to me!" as on the old Laugh In show.

This principle goes both ways; positive people and circumstances are also drawn to us. However, we tend not to notice the serendipitous events, because we generally do not question the good times, only the bad. When things go well, we may enjoy ourselves so much that we don't feel the urge to analyze or philosophize. Yet, because life has its own flow and cyclical nature, it is wise to pay attention whatever the experience.

It is not necessarily that we draw all adversity directly to ourselves, or that we deserve every bad thing that happens—hereby indicating our unworthiness. Rather, it is a complex concatenation of causes and potentialities that flow together—like a dance, or those metal filings. In the subtle realms of connectivity, our higher self, perhaps in conjunction with the Lords of Karma, attracts to our personality those elements of experience which draw us toward our potentiality. Sometimes, it may be a shock that acts as a wake-up call to redirect our energies; sometimes, disappointments or pain deepen our connections with the inner realities; while at other times, serendipitous happenings catapult us into a whole new arena of growth and service.

However it might manifest, the purposefulness of random events unfolds for the student of life. Madame Blavatsky spoke of this phenomenon by referencing a Roman legend. Once when Rome was threatened by attack, a lone goose cried out, perhaps in its sleep, and woke the entire flock. The cries of the disturbed birds alerted the sentries and thereby saved Rome.

Has it never struck you, that if the nightmare of a dreaming goose, causing the whole slumbering flock to awake and cackle— could save Rome, that your cackle too, may also produce as unexpected results? . . . But don't you know, that the building of a nest by a swallow, the tumbling of a dirt-grimed urchin down the back stair, or the chaff of your nursery maid with the butcher's boy, may alter the face of nations, as much as can the downfall of a Napoleon? Yea, verily so; for the links within links and the concatenations of this Nidanic* Universe are past our understanding. 
(* Nidanas, or the concatenation of causes and effects, in the Eastern philosophy.)

(Collected Works, vol. 12, 384-5)

None of this cause and relationship is static or linear. Every attitude and action we take blends with all the potential circumstances emerging from everyone around us, and creates a new set of possibilities. As we learn and grow beyond the circumstances of yesterday, the whole pattern can dissolve and shift, so that what was once an insurmountable problem can dissolve like a mist in the midday sun.

The fluidity of what seemed to be unshakably set circumstances has often proven true in my own experience. My once-dreaded boss who seemed to delight in setting me up for certain stumbles, if not total failure, faded into the background as I gained my own strength in dealing with her. As soon as I had fully conquered the situation in myself, I was promoted away from what had seemed like an interminable ordeal.

Another time it seemed that crumbling finances would bring down my house of cards. But as I faced each issue and worked my way through it, what had looked like a certain brick wall faded into a pathway—a little rocky, but a pathway, none the less. By conquering the difficulty within myself, the actual outer circumstances metamorphosed into something that could be handled.

I have become strongly convinced that all of life is a gigantic synchronistic flow for the purpose of spiritual unfoldment, which is somehow orchestrated by our higher selves, in harmony with the greater power beyond our ken. Whatever is drawn to us is not at all related to the wishes of our personality. In fact, it very often seems to be the opposite. But it is in line with creating the possibilities for us to become all that we can be.

By paying attention to this directivity in our lives, we can discover our true nature and calling. In this discovery lies the possibility that we can find joy in following the flow, instead of feeling torn and tossed. We can actively cooperate with the magnetic pull of the universe toward growth, evolution, and wholeness.