Does this Path have a Heart?
So I woke up at 5:00AM today with my mind FULL of thoughts and memories of innumerable mistakes and examples of foolish and even reprehensible behavior. As one passed, another exploded into my mind to easily take its place. After a while I found it rather comical that I could easily 'will' another shameful example and yet couldn't remember a single example of something good I had done. It's as if my mind was 'blocked' or stuck in one mode (negative/bad memories) and refused to switch channels. I thought of the 'big mind' technique of meditation and of the various players in our mind and knew that my self-critical mind was in full control. This of course didn't help one bit and all I could do was to simply ride it out! Ugh.
I was scheduled to go on an IMS/Vipassana meditation retreat this past week. It was a 14 day program. At the last moment I chose not to go because of practicalities (money) and such. Here I am looking for work, behind on my bills and I'm contemplating going away for 2 weeks on a meditation retreat! Funny how we always seem to have either plenty of time on our hands but not enough money or vice versa.
It's so very difficult to ACTUALLY believe that things are as they should be. Particularly when you take the time on a regular basis (sadhana) to check in and simply observe. For me the practice of yoga, meditation, therapy/counseling, introspection, reading books by the great masters, etc. is that 'checking-in'. As difficult as one's external situation is or can be, it can always be comforting to find a bit of peace in your spiritual practice.
But when your internal world is under assault, it's hard to find a still point. That's when a spiritual practice shows us the way...
I am contemplating my options and opportunities as far as a new F/T position is concerned. I've been out of work since late August. The time-off has been good - more time with Dana and Lefty, but the usual stress is always present. A pattern I see repeating itself as far as the work search is concerned is that if I go for money, the commute is horrid, the environment lousy, the work stressful, the hours long, etc. but if I happen upon a gig where those characteristics are actually good, then the money isn't. What's with that? I suppose it's the reminder that you should simply take the opportunity that represents the best chance at personal and professional growth (follow your heart) and turn a blind eye towards the salary. Kind of a variation on the theme that if you follow your heart or do what you love, the money will come (eventually).
Speaking of following one's heart, I came across one of my favorite quotes yesterday:
"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 a 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 from 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 whan I was very young, and my blood was too vigorous for me to understand it. Now I 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 a path going through the bush or into the bush...In my own life I could say that 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 doesn't it is of no use. Both paths lead nowhere; but one has a heart and the other doesn't. 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 Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge
by Carlos Casteneda