Thursday, July 12, 2012

Finding Your Path of Heart

I often remind my students and clients, "Follow your path of heart." I am assuming that they have a sense of what that means but is that true? What does this phrase mean?

I've received a number of emails recently about the fear and uncertainty that is connected to heeding the inner call to follow a path that is out of the mainstream, a path of heart. This is usually about following a spiritual calling, not an academic pursuit, although there may be training involved in order to attain the necessary skills. In modern society, it is acceptable to study for a profession and receive certification for that endeavor. But what about your soul's longing? What if that is not in alignment with an academic pursuit? What then?

As I reflected on this, I remembered Carlos Castaneda's books and the teachings of Don Juan. I want to share a quote from The Teachings of Don Juan.

Don Juan said:
"Anything is one of a million paths. Therefore you must always keep in mind that a path is only a path; if you feel you should not follow it, you must not stay with it under any conditions. To have such clarity you must lead a disciplined life. Only then will you know that any path is only a path, and there is no affront, to oneself or to others, in dropping it if that is what your heart tells you to do. But your decision to keep on the path or to leave it must be free of fear or ambition.

I warn you. Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary. Then ask yourself, and yourself alone, one question. This question is one that only a very old man asks. My benefactor told me about it once when I was young, and my blood was too vigorous for me to understand it. Now I do understand it. I will tell you what it is: Does this path have a heart?

All paths are the same: they lead nowhere. They are paths going through the bush, or into the bush. In my own life I could say I have traversed long, long paths, but I am not anywhere.

My benefactor’s question has meaning now. Does this path have a heart?

If it does, the path is good; if it does not, it is of no use. Both paths lead nowhere; but one has a heart, the other does not. One makes for a joyful journey; as long as you follow it, you are one with it. The other will make you curse your life. One makes you strong; the other weakens you. The trouble is nobody asks the question; and when a man finally realizes that he has taken a path without a heart, the path is ready to kill him. At that point very few men can stop to deliberate, and leave the path.

A path without a heart is never enjoyable. You have to work hard even to take it. On the other hand, a path with heart is easy; it does not make you work at liking it. For me there is only the traveling on paths that have a heart, or on any path that may have heart. There I travel… and the only worthwhile challenge is to traverse its full length. And there I travel looking, looking, breathlessly."

May you find your path of heart and may you have the courage to follow it, no matter what others say.

Blessings of peace, love and light be upon you ~ Gretchen