The Intelligence within Your Living in Process

“Man is a stream whose source is hidden…. I am constrained every moment to acknowledge a higher origin for events than the will I call mine.”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882),
American author, poet, and philosopher,
in The Over-Soul


When I was in my twenties, I dated a woman who was in training to become a therapist. I remember that amidst one of our arguments, she yelled out, “You need therapy!”

And so I soon began therapy. But given I didn’t earn enough money to afford private sessions with a therapist, I began with a group. One by one each group member would work individually with the therapist. As I witnessed others and myself work with our issues, I learned an essential truth which continues today to guide me and my work with my own clients:

You and I are Life, expressing as an unfolding process of becoming which is guided profoundly by an inherent logic and intelligence.

Many persons understand that “living in process” refers to the experience that you and I are a process. Instant by instant our experiencing unfolds through a ceaseless transformation of states, thoughts, feelings, sensations and worldly experiences. Not for one instant does your experiencing awareness remain the same. You are a verb, not a noun. You are a dynamic, not a static thing.

Less commonly do we understand that your process and mine are not haphazard sequences of chance experience. Instead our life processes are guided by an inherent logic and intelligence.

The intelligence which guides the presentation of issues to our awareness, seeks not to undermine us, but rather actualize our human potential. Psychologist Abraham Maslow alluded to this intelligence as the drive to Self-actualization. Back then in the therapy group, as others and I faced and worked on the issues which our processes brought up, we did not meet defeat; rather we inevitably experienced greater integration, effectiveness in daily living, and authenticity.

Moreover, our life processes do not limit their expression to our inner worlds. Just as the issues which arise from within us reflect the logic and intelligence of self-actualization, so too do the experiences and situations with which we are presented by everyday life. Psychologist Arnold Mindell affirms that the river of your unfolding process also expresses itself through the “world channel” of the experiences and situations which daily life presents you.

For example, it is not that issue with your partner that stymies you, but your not turning your face to the issue and working it. Similarly, the pain of that dissatisfying job or life situation calls you to growth, if you will address it, and choose to live more largely. Affirming that your life process expresses itself in your outer life, the Buddhist meditation master, Chögyam Trungpa, reminds us that, “Situations are the voice of my guru, the presence of my guru.” – the voice of that intrinsic intelligence which would carry forward our livingness.

Of course it’s one thing to understand these things intellectually, another to live them. Sometimes when my own humanness resists the flow of my own life process, a trickle of awareness stirs from my unconscious to remind me of a scene from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Standing outside the ballroom where he will meet Juliet for the first time, Romeo experiences prescient misgivings. He nevertheless decides to enter saying, “But he that hath the steerage of my course, Direct my sail.”

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