A priest and psychotherapist shares an Aha! Moment that took a lifetime

In this economy, not many feel like captains of industry. But we are still obsessed with controlling, listing and working overtime to achieve our goals. The difference between trust and control.

BY DAVID RICKEY — A song by Alanis Morissette called Thank U, which may be a surprising cite given that I am a 60-something priest living in San Francisco and have an iTunes library loaded with chamber music, channels a stunning spiritual meme:

The moment I let go of it, is the moment that I got more than I could handle.

Every time that I let go of wanting a particular outcome, the results far exceed what I imagined.

From the choice of a small college to major in music, switching majors and spending a year in Japan, to the cross-country motorcycle trip I took in 1995, to the move to San Francisco after getting run over by a car in the Blue Hills west of Sydney, Australia (after a much shorter motorcycle adventure there), none of my adventures worked out as they were “supposed to.” Yet all had amazingly wonderful outcomes.

In the book of Genesis God says to Abraham, “Go! To a place that I will show you.” And Abraham sets out, not knowing where this adventure will take him.

How to let the universe work for you

First, get over the idea that the universe should work for you. We are expressions of the universe. Humans are the culmination of 15+ billion years of evolution, purposefully guided to become conscious of the ability to choose and participate in that very evolution. Our essence is the universe working for itself.

Think of it this way: If your life has a destination, don’t drive yourself there. Get in a taxi, say “follow that vision (or dream, or purpose)!” and let the universe drive. It might speed, get caught in traffic, take scary detours or even crash, but it will eventually get you where you need to go.

Once you have grasped that concept, there is an internal shift in the direction of your intentions. Getting the universe working for you is a matter of consciously aligning your will with the purpose of the universe. This isn’t giving up your freedom, but recognizing that you are being nurtured to use your gifts, talents and abilities to their fullest. What may seem (and indeed will be) huge challenges are really calls to create, in your way, solutions that draw on the infinite wisdom of the kosmos. You have the entire universe working behind the scenes, guiding you to success.

Dictatorship to democracy: another example of history's "moving outward."

The key is shifting the direction of the energy you want to control. Frustration will come when you try to draw energy from the universe to you. The history of creation is a moving outward. From the Big Bang, energy has always moved outward, from simplicity to complexity, from singularities to societies, from (as we see today) dictators to democracies. The ego wants to draw toward itself: “What’s in it for me?” Shifting consciousness means instead asking, “What’s in it for the kosmos?”

Woody Allen was right: Success is just about showing up

When you step back, allow your mind to rest and open, and ask “What is truly best for the planet?” you align your questions and intentions with those of the unfolding universe. Insights and synchronicity will result, and ultimately success is more likely – though it may look nothing like the success you had envisioned.

The Course in Miracles instructs us to let go of outcomes. Success happens without our intending it. So what is intention? Simply a desire to let the kosmos bring about the best we can accomplish.

Another layer to this alignment process is choosing to live in harmony with the intention.

Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see.” Jesus also talked about believing you have already received what you pray for. By living “as if” what you intend is already unfolding, you align your behavioral energies with the intention. This requires a certain level of flexibility. Because the universe is now unfolding through you, you must be open to shifts in direction.

When I arrived at my church more than 14 years ago, I had a clear task of trying to rebuild the church building, damaged by the 1989 earthquake. But as my congregation and I pursued solutions we learned to ask, “What is the need in the community?” Through synchronistic events, we became aware of the need for housing for developmentally disabled adults.

The new site of 21 affordable housing units

Eventually we tore down the brick building, and next month we will cut the ribbon on 21 units of affordable housing. With the money that came from that, we are looking to evolve into a entirely new expression of Church for the 21st Century.

Personally, I have evolved from an ‘abraham’, to a ‘moses’, to a kind of ‘isaiah’ (lower case, intentional)!

The way to get the universe to work for you is to follow your dreams and visions, knowing that they won’t go the way you want, and trusting that there is something much larger at work. True faith is trusting the universe by letting it work with and through you.

David Rickey is an Episcopal priest, Soul’s Code co-founder and counselor in San Francisco who does a weekly ministry at a residence for the elderly in northern California. Follow David on Twitter.

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