Follow Your Heart, or…

Follow your heart

The mantra of our time.  “Follow your bliss” shows up in different forms almost non-stop, doesn’t it? Often this means choosing the right career, life partner, or brand of whiskey. Isn’t there more to living? What if it’s all about what feels good, or what’s convenient for us? Then how are we better than the old dog lying in the sunny spot? He’s found his bliss, hasn’t he? Why do they say, “follow your heart?” Who are “they?” How if following our heart different from the dog chasing its tail? Whose heart is wise enough to teach them? Whose heart has all the answers, or any answers? Are they the right ones?

“Follow your heart?”  People stay in relationships that destroy them. Their hearts tell them to. Soldiers kill and die for their hearts tell them. Maybe love for whichever country, because they were born there. Maybe for the honor of their own corps. Maybe for a woman whose own honor is questionable, at best. If for their land, is one piece of land so much better than the other, to fight about it? Why can’t they all just go home, and work to make it even better? Is a casual insult worth anyone’s life? The reason is often just that those who control the land control their emotions. It becomes more noble to be a dog of war than a man of peace. Too often we follow our bliss to the mad house, and we follow our hearts to the graveyard. Is this what it means to be human?

Many have realised the picture was much bigger than that any of that. They found real bliss by leaving that “bliss” behind. By not chasing after the appearances they found the reality. We remember them as sages, saints, and ascetics. What were they seeking? Pleasure? Enlightenment? Nirvana? Or was it – is it – something bigger? These are questions we explore in the book, The Tao of Prayer.

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The Pursuit of Happiness, or Finding Joy?

The American “Declaration of Independence” is based on, “the pursuit of happiness.” The harder  we chase happiness the less we get, don’t we? “Happiness” comes from what happens. We can’t control what happens, so we can’t catch happiness any more than we can catch or loose the wind. If it happens, it happens. Then it’s gone. We might have a breeze, or we might get the doldrums.

Real joy, even ecstasy, is an inside job. It’s not an easy task, is it, or everybody would have it. The good news is that we are made for perfect joy. It’s the very reason we’re alive. The first step to the “pursuit of happiness” is to stop chasing it! Over the ages wise teachers have learned ways to grow in joy. There is a Path. They traveled it and left us their maps to follow. The ones who kept walking it are the ones we listen to. Those who claim to have reached perfection, those we avoid. Nirvana, Enlightenment, Deification, it’s forever a work in progress. We are all “works in progress,” aren’t we?

So who am I? Just another work in progress. I haven’t “attained.” I can’t even say I’ve walked that far. I have walked some, though, seen the maps, and written a small book to help us all along that Way. The Tao of Prayer is just that. It’s a guidebook. Any of us who’s alive is on the Path, at some point, and I guess that covers most of us.The challenge is about which way to go, what to pack, and how to keep going.

Please take your time here. I’ve brought together a few reflections from some  good and wise writers. Some of them are ancient and some modern, and some in between. All of them are really helpful. I hope this blog will encourage you in your own journey, though the book handles some things a blog just can’t.

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