At junctures in our lives we face uncertainty and doubt about our jobs, relationships and many other aspects of our lives. Self-talks like this are not uncommon: “I really don’t like this work any longer, in fact I hate it, but I’m not sure what I should be doing; should I push on and not be disheartened … should I look elsewhere … should I retrain in a new area I’ve always wished for … maybe I should take a break from everything for a year or so and do nothing …”.

At such times, your essential self is telling you; albeit in a strange way; that it’s time to take stock and correct path towards the path that is right for you. This goes back to the question of life purpose and what we are to do on this planet which I wrote about previously in Dear Rumi why am I here? Tell me about work and life purpose. Today, I thought to share with you couple of paragraphs from Leo Buscaglia’s highly popular book Living Loving and Learning:

Herbert Otto says: “Change and growth take place when a person has risked himself and dares to become involved with experimenting with his own life.” Isn’t that fantastic? A person has risked himself and dared to become involved with experimenting with his own life, trusting himself. To do this, to experiment with your own life, is very exhilarating, full of joy, full of happiness, full of wonder, and yet it’s also spooky. It’s also frightening because you are dealing with the unknown, and you are shaking complacency. You can sit back and say, “Everything’s all right with me, got a good job, got a car,” but then you decide you might change, this may no longer be your value; and so you’re shaking complacency.

Fine, you have now shaken your complacency and are ready for change, but change to what? In other words you may know very clearly what you don’t want (your current life situation), but you don’t have any idea; or at least not a clear idea; what you do want.  For this you need a guide, a teacher. Your inner guide is your heart. Your outer guide would need to be someone way ahead of you on the path of self-knowing, a teacher with whom your heart feels rapport and harmony.

The next point is that everybody has his own path. There are a thousand paths to discovering yourself, to becoming. Every one of you will find your own way. Don’t let anybody impose theirs on you.   ~Leo Buscaglia

Heart, courage and discipline are necessary

Buscaglia goes on to quote Carlos Castaneda (from the book:  The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge ) which describes this further and also points out that we need both courage to follow our heart and the steadfastness to live a disciplined life to be able to assess various paths as to whether they have heart or not. This is in line with what I wrote earlier in the Rumi article about our purpose and the need for determination as well as love.

Always ask: Does this path have a heart?

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.
This question is one that only a very old man asks. 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. 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, 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.
Before you embark on any path ask the question: Does this path have a heart? If the answer is no, you will know it, and then you must choose another path. 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.” ~Don Juan

And let us close by some Rumi wisdom:

Know that my eyes are asleep, but my heart is awake; know that in truth, my seemingly inactive form is in action. Your eyes are awake, but your heart is sunk in slumber; my eyes are asleep, but my heart is opening doors. My heart possesses five extra sense organs; my heart experiences both worlds.  ~Rumi