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Monday, September 12, 2011

A Path with a Heart

I was re-reading several of my Carlos Castaneda books from the ‘70’s and I came across the passage below.

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.

Carlos Castaneda “A Path with A Heart” The Teachings of don Juan

Friends can teach us who we are by authentically reflecting how they see us. Some friends and family will warn us of impending difficulty because the path we choose is not their path. But true friends will see only our passion.

Wise teachers can advise and direct us toward our path by intuitively sensing who we are and point out our failure to follow our heart.

Life will erect barriers and obstacles making it difficult or impossible to be who we are not. We can choose to battle with these obstacles or not. As we become more dedicated to our path impediments will drop away and the way will become clear.

Our heart, like a compass, will always point us in the direction that is our true path. If we have the courage to begin to choose to walk the “path with a heart” our life will eventually begin to make sense but our heart, if we listen, can tell us instantly.

As don Juan (Castaneda) tells us only we ourselves can find our path by listening to our heart. But that is the easy part. We intuitively know what our heart wants. Our biggest challenge is to have the courage to ignore the cacophony around us that would drowned out the heart’s small still voice.

Often we are mistakenly convinced that our path must be grandiose or that we will achieve fame or fortune but these things are only incidental to what our heart will recognize as true success.
As with the “Road Less Traveled” the opening to your unique path will at first be unclear and “not taken” by the masses.


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