We make choices, but we don’t choose the consequences of these actions. The consequences arise as a result of choices; but they are not ours to control.
Gandhi taught that we choose our actions based on what we think is the best thing to do, but we need to remember to give the outcome to God.
For it is a fact that we have little control over the outcome, much as we wish we had the power.
Wayne Muller points out that the Buddha’s eight fold path speaks of right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, etc—but not right results.
There are no “right results” on the eight fold path.
We do our work, make our choices, but by the nature of reality, God is in charge of results.
All farmers know that that they can plant seeds but cannot guarantee the growth.
So it is with us. Our “right effort” then becomes focusing on what we plant—our seed thoughts, words and actions—while remembering we are not in control of the outcome.
Thus we won’t waste our energy trying to control the areas in which we have none.
Results arise because of the infinite number of causes that are always being set in motion—our universe is very subtle—and the conditions that have come about because of all these actions.
Everything we do has an effect. And everything that others do (and there are billions of humans making all sorts of choices every moment) affects our world.
But does this mean that our choices aren’t important? No, indeed it doesn’t mean this. Our every thought and action is very important.
Gandhi left us with another insight: “What you do may not seem important, but it is vital that you do it.”
For we live in a mysterious universe. We do the best we can to make wise choices based on the information we have at each moment. But there are no guarantees.
A helpful phrase I have learned from the Quakers is “proceed as way opens.”
Daily I do my best to notice where I am at the present moment by paying attention to what is happening within my mind and my body. Where are the stress places? The tightness?
This is mindfulness.
Uptightness is a sign that I’m hoping/wanting/desiring something to happen or trying to avoid it. Either way, I’m trying to manipulate the universe. And I’m not making the wisest choice of my energy.
I often just want to be safe. That seems to be the ego’s most pertinent need.
But trying to be safe, keep our reputation intact, keep all those we love safe, will trip us up, because appearances are deceiving.
What looks safe isn’t, as we live in a world of impermanence—ever changing. What we thought was there one moment may not be there the next. Or it changes shape.
The truth is that my ego cannot possible keep me safe, as it cannot guarantee that definite outcomes will follow any action. I make my choice, but I must trust that the result will be what the soul needs—rather than my ego. And my ego may be disappointed.
So I ask, “Where is this leading me?”
Then I do my best to follow, one step at a time.
I believe we are here for soul growth—not ego satisfaction.
I also believe that we are always being held in the heart of universal love no matter our choices. God never gives up on us.
So where is my trust?
It is not our job to approve or disapprove of what takes place. It is our job to choose our next step wisely. What are we putting into the mix?
The universe has been evolving for 14 and ½ billion years. It knows how to become. It finds its way forward in mysterious ways by using our every thought, word and action and making something new and amazing from all the information received. It integrates, brings forth new wholeness in ways that I certainly do not understand.
But I have found that the process continue to work. The universe spirals upward as we move into new ways of seeing and being, as modern science is showing us.
So I do what is in front of me to do and trust the universe to bring forth the results.
When I do my job and leave the universe to do it’s work, I find more serenity!