Goal of FlowBy PHIL WITTMEYER & Others
Also Known As Stagnation, Relaxation & Equalibrium
The original name of this Goal is "stagnation", but to me this word has a negative connotation, whereas the Goal is in fact neither positive nor negative. The word "equilibrium" conveys this sense of neutrality more accurately, I think, but recently the term "Flow" has been more widely used with this goal. Whatever the name, a person with this Goal prefers for things to run smoothly: neither starting nor stopping, increasing or decreasing, amalgamating or proliferating. He wants to avoid causing disruptions in the normal order of things: it is uncomfortable for him to create a stir. His basic purpose in life is to relieve stress, or avoid it.
People who do not have this Goal perceive a person with this Goal as purposeless — a life going nowhere. Indeed, it often seems to others that he has no ambition except ease and contentment. He is quite comfortable with maintaining the status quo, going along with the existing system, preserving the present state of affairs, just as it is. The advantage of this is that the person is rather stable and dependable — not much changes in his life. The disadvantage is that, even though he doesn't let things go down hill, neither is the person likely to make things go up hill — making progress or improvement.
Balance is another big issue for people in this Goal. If things drift or get pushed out of balance, that is when they spring into action, to restore the natural order. They also tend to live in the moment, rather than in the past or the future. This is a typical Goal for people in bureaucracy, since one main goal of government is to maintain or restore order, and so many laws are intended to define fairness and justice. In other endeavors, Flow shows up in a person as a drive for standardization and neatness.
There is no complement to the Goal of Flow, but there is a counterpart, the Observation Mode. Flow seeks what Observation has, to be uninvolved or disconnected from the events, feelings, and thoughts going on all around.
Positive Pole (Suspension)
The Positive Pole of this Goal was originally called "suspension". I think this referred to the balance place between two opposing forces. Any object held in suspension is not at either extreme of "positive" or "negative". A person held in "suspense" does not know what the outcome will be or which way things will go. A person in this Pole is constantly searching for this balance point rather than leaning one way or the other. Polarizing forces are avoided rather than sought.
I favor calling the positive pole +Neutrality, since this word seems to me to be more easily understandable to most people. The Positive Pole is the active Pole, so a person in this Pole actively seeks justice. It is when he perceives that things are not fair that he works to make them so. If a "debt" of any kind exists, it should be paid. He is very concerned with equality — all exchanges must be just and equitable. He doesn't want to owe anything, nor have others owing him. You might say he goes through life with a ledger book, keeping track of all the transactions and making sure he breaks even, neither in the red nor in the black. He seeks the so-called "happy medium", the "middle of the road", so that he experiences neither excess nor deprivation. He shies away from all extremes, and pursues moderation in everything. Whatever the situation, he tries to do the appropriate thing, which will cause no disruption of the existing order. He does not "rock the boat", and if the boat is rocking, he wants it to stop rocking. "Don't make waves" is a good motto for this Pole.
Negative Pole (Inertia)
The Negative Pole of this Goal is called "inertia". In physics terminology, this is the tendency of matter to resist a change in the nature of its motion — an object at rest takes work to get moving. When applied to people, it usually refers to someone who is sluggish, slow, lethargic, and phlegmatic — it is difficult to get them moving also.
The Negative Pole has also been called -Stagnation. Either way, in the negative the person is difficult to motivate. He will refuse to get off dead center. Decisions are made on the basis of least effort — finding the path of least resistance. The tendency is to take the easy way out of a difficult situation. He really cherishes his noninvolvement. He will procrastinate as long as he can, and then he does no more than required to restore ease and comfort. Unless he is really pushed hard by circumstance, he will coast through life in a leisurely fashion. To others who have ambition, it seems he dilly-dallies, deliberately wasting time, accomplishing as little as possible. This is an accurate perception. In the extreme cases, he is a "slowpoke", a "goof-off", or a drifter. In any case, he does not like "work", even to work for things he likes. The way to overcome this Pole is to contemplate and apply the Positive Poles of all the other Goals, since Flow is the Neutral Goal. Choose one that feels right or fits the situation, and go with it. Do something with the purpose of +Dedication, +Leadership, +Efficiency, +Unfoldment, +Discrimination, or +Unification — whichever it be, just do something.
A Life On Hold
Examine the other goals and you'll see that they are all about doing things: they either seek to inspire, express, or act. With the goal of flow, however, it is all about assimilation. Similar to the scholar that absorbs experience like a sponge, the goal of flow seeks to absorb life without resistance. It doesn't try to grow from it, reject it, accept it, or dominate it; the intention, as the popular expression says, is to just go with the flow. If taken to extremes, however, this path of least resistance may lead to inertia, a stagnated state where nothing flows.
In the positive pole of suspension, the goal of Flow could be considered a life on hold -- and indeed, Flow is often selected after a series of exceptionally busy or stressful past lifetimes. On a soul level, it is a state of suspended animation, where all growth inducing activities are set aside in favor of rest. This doesn't mean that life won't be busy, but even an active life can feel surprisingly peaceful if too much control is not exerted on where it leads. Sometimes, however, it is not about rest at all, and the intention is to find the fluidity in life and surrender to the ebb and flow of its current.
Individual talents often bubble to the surface with this goal and may flow effortlessly. Fame, understandably, is not normally associated with Flow, but without the challenges typically associated with the other goals, Flow allows an unfettered exploration of various talents that may lead to fame. Career paths often fall into place, and although an actor or Broadway singer's life may look extremely busy, allowing a particular talent to flow can be restorative and restful -- even if the life seems full.
In the end, if you don't fight against the current you may get some rest with this goal. Where the other goals try to make things happen, the goal of flow is to be nonresistant to the things that happen. It is a state of surrender; you are trusting that life will work out for you in the long run if you don't get in the way. You relinquish your control over the rudder in the water and surrender to whatever course the current chooses to lead you. The flow of life, in short, is now, in effect, your rudder.
Learning to let go is not easy, though, and many people resist the goal of Flow, failing to accomplish its objectives.
The Goal of Not Having a Goal
The goal of flow tends to make for a life shape that meanders; it's a life that has a little bit of this and a little bit of that, since it's the goal of not having a goal. It's not moving inexorably to a particular point in time.
The purpose of the goal of flow is to learn how to let things happen rather than making them happen, as opposed to a goal of growth, for instance, which is more about making things happen. In growth, you are called to take the bull by the horns and master it, rising to your challenges by working hard. It has the number six (cardinal inspiration axis) quality of being busy. In contrast, the neutral, number four (assimilation axis) goal is like driving a car and learning to balance braking with acceleration to get the best results: working, but not too hard. It's the middle way, the neutral way of being. It also can be used to slide to any of the other goals, so sometimes it's chosen for that purpose. You might temporarily slide to dominance, temporarily to submission, and so forth. The goal of flow might be chosen in order to have a rest life, but not necessarily, and few people actually have easy lives on this challenging planet. However, it is rare for someone with this goal to struggle for long for the basics such as food and shelter if she is willing to let go to the flow of life, even if there are plenty of internal struggles (which might reflect soul age, life plan, karma, etc.)
In general, our goal is more about our relationship with our life situations than about our relationship with ourselves. For example, people in the positive pole of flow seem to have an easier time making a living and otherwise getting along in the world than those with other goals. I sometimes joke that flow is the goal that the rest of us wish we had chosen. I know one scholar in flow, for example, who receives disability income for a relatively minor injury, and has flowed from one house-sitting or other rent-free situation to another for a few years. This has given her more opportunity to study and do deep inner work. However, I don’t think that her inner process has been easier than anyone else’s. We all have parts of ourselves that need healing.
Channeling About Flow
The neutral goal, on the assimilation axis, is called "flow." Its original name was "stagnation." Again, that sounds like a bad thing, but a still pond that has various things floating on it can be a beautiful example of stagnation: it's not going anywhere, it is just being. However, to be stagnant as a personality is generally understood as being stuck, which is the negative pole of this goal, "inertia," as opposed to simply resting or being held up by the water. Others have called this goal "relaxation" or "equilibrium." It is the neutral goal, but that may seem like an oxymoron: if you have a goal, you are not neutral. However, you could think of it as the goal of not having a goal, setting up your life without a directed one.
There are different ways this can affect a life. We have spoken of how growth can slide to reevaluation, and vice-versa, and so forth with the other goals. Flow, being on the assimilation axis, can slide to any of the other goals. Some people who have this neutral goal temporarily do various other goals throughout life, giving them flexibility in how their life is shaped. A soul who does not slide a great deal is having a rest life or is simply working on learning to flow.
In the positive pole, "suspension," people in flow let themselves be carried on the surface of the water, however it wants to move them, not passively, but not insisting on a particular outcome too rigidly. When they flow, things tend to work out. The highest form of this goal is surrendering to the universe, letting the highest good dictate how you move in your life. There is ease and relaxation
The negative pole, "inertia," is the opposite, being stuck. In inertia, one has too much weight; it is a rock that sinks to the bottom and stays in the mud rather than a leaf that is gently moved by the current; it is overly passive. In the positive pole, one is responsive to the subtle currents; one perceives how they are moving and can sense what the right thing is. Sometimes the flow is more active, and sometimes, quieter.
In flow, one seeks to find the natural order of things and feel part of the whole, trusting that it will find your right place for you. People with this goal tend to have a life with a little of this and a little of that. They may, for example, have several different careers that they meander in and out of.
In the positive pole, the person is a dance partner like Ginger Rogers following the lead of Fred Astaire, but in this case, Fred Astaire is life itself, she is responding to its movements. In the negative pole, instead of being Ginger Rogers, one is an inert blob, not responding.
Q. How does the goal reflect the life task?
A. With a goal of flow, it is intended that you do your task in a more fluid way.
Q. I've found that the negative pole of flow can manifest as a resistance to going with the flow, which leads to a lot of turbulence, as well as excessive passivity, which leads to stuck-in-a-rut stagnation.
A. They are the same thing.
All the assimilation axis traits can either be airborne or earthbound. This includes the scholar role, the chief obstacle of stubbornness (obviously), the attitude of pragmatist, and so forth. Its very neutrality dictates that possibility. If you have more than one trait on the assimilation axis, that tendency is increased. You want to avoid the stuck or plodding quality that the negative pole can impart, and seek the lightness and elevation of the positive.
A ballroom dancer who is swept off her feet in the flow of a dance is not passive, and it is not as easy as a good dancer makes it look. Effectively doing the goal of flow is not necessarily all that easy. There are many things in life that can trap you and make you stuck. To be life's dance partner, to be nimble and airborne, requires work, but it is not the same kind of work as with the other goals. Being neutral, it is active and passive at the same time; it is not just passive. Being just passive is being stuck, and being just active here leads to spinning your wheels, like a car stuck in the mud, exerting a lot of effort but not going anywhere. In inertia, your life feels sticky; you're in the mud. In the positive pole, it feels like you can breathe fresh air.
The right blend of active and passive is the perfect equilibrium of the assimilation axis, and it is not easy to achieve, but when you have achieved it, there is a sense of ease in your life. You are not making things happen, but are a part of something larger. You are turning, and as you turn, other things are turning as well. You fit into the whole.
Shepherd Hoodwin -- From Michael On Goals
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About Phil Wittmeyer
Phil is a long-time Michael student who has written several book-length manuscripts about the Michael teachings, many of them featured on this site. He has been an active member in the community for many years and can be found at most Michael gatherings.
Phil currently lives in Colorado.
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