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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Loving the World

how do I love the world?

 

“Love the world as your own self; then you can truly care for all things.” What does this mean, “loving the world?” Lao Tse writes, then tells us,  “accept disgrace willingly,” and “accept being unimportant.” Would we exploit other people if we followed this advice? How would we relate to the world around us, if we weren’t intent on our own “right” to it? This can lead into all kinds of thought about government and company policies, city planning, and other “what about them” concerns. What about us?

Why would we be, “loving the world as (our) own self?” We’re part of it, and it is part of us. A fish lives in the water, and draws its life from it. A bird flies in the air, and breathes the same air. We live by the world, in the world, and from the world. The very life of this world is the life of the Tao, which guides and sustains it. In an old story a poor man found a goose which laid golden eggs. With the gold he could have paid his debts and cared for his needs. Instead, he cut the bird open to have all the gold at once. There was no gold, of course, but only a dead goose on the table. If he had loved that one part of the world as himself he would have been a very rich man.

What is our world? What does it mean to love it in such a way? We have air to breathe, but is that all? Don’t we breathe in the relationships and culture around us as well? We have water to drink, from a pure source. Do we forget the water of life-wisdom which flows to us from the sages of old? We live by the fruits of the earth. What is the ground from which we ourselves grow? Do we demand life, or live in the Tao?

If we are not part of the bigger picture, then we have no place in it. Do we exploit, or participate?  If we accept not being the master, of our world, then we can begin finding our place in it. Only then do we have the humility to love.

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