“If you vanquish ego-clinging today, tonight you will be enlightened.” —Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
These days just about everyone in the blogosphere tells you to follow your heart, listen to your inner voice, embrace your passion, and map your desire.
But is it always smart to follow your heart?
There’s one potential problem with this advice: EGO. And, I don’t necessarily mean having a big head alone. Low self-esteem entwines itself beautifully with ego as well. By ego, I mean the incessant grasping at a permanent sense of self. This sense of “my” heart, “my” inner voice, “my” passion, “my” desire, “my” dream.
Or, “Me, me, me, me.”
How do you differentiate between a pure voice, idea or vision and all the layers of ego along with its best friends, attachment and aversion - the seeds of unhappiness?
I’ve observed the way great spiritual masters make decisions and it’s not akin to following “their” heart. Their personal desires have little if any relevance in their decision-making. How do they decide?
- They understand the futility of worldly activity. After all, you have to give up everything - even your passion - when you die. They measure an activity in relation to the benefit it will bring for others.
- They wait patiently for clarity to emerge.
- They act when the time is right.
- They sometimes ask for expert advice in relation to mundane affairs. But, they remain wary of decisions made merely for expediency or practicality; ones that may not take into account a spiritual perspective.
- They don’t assume they can see the whole picture on their own.
- They ask for advice and direction from their spiritual teacher. Even the greatest spiritual teachers have the humility to remain a student. Then, they surrender their own wishes and opinions and follow the guidance they have been given.
In these times, very few people have a chance to follow a genuine spiritual teacher. So, left on our own, should we always follow our heart?
I say: proceed carefully.
- How strong are your expectations?
- How attached are you to the outcome?
- If circumstances changed, could you let go of your passion tomorrow?
Listen to your inner voice, but hear with discernment and an ear for attachment, aversion, and ego.
- More important than doing what you love is being mindful and aware whatever you are doing.
- More important than doing what you love is letting go of any thoughts and feelings that arise moment to moment.
- More important than doing what you love is being kind, thoughtful, tolerant and compassionate wherever you happen to be.
- More important than doing what you love is being love.
Of course, it's wonderful to be able to do work you love, use your inherent talent, and follow your passion. But don’t take it all too seriously or become overly attached.
Life is constantly unfolding. You never know what will happen next. Dreams can be snatched away without warning. However, when you are centered in your true self you are able to flow with change and be content in almost any circumstances.
Ultimately, the whole point of the spiritual path is to recognize it’s not about “you”. Being overly focused on your self only brings tension.
When you really think about it, it's an incredible privilege to even have the chance to follow one's heart. You and I are not among the 27 million people enslaved worldwide. Let's be grateful for the freedom to choose.
What do you think? Is it always best to follow your heart? I would love to hear your thoughts.
Thank you for your presence, I know your time is precious! Don’t forget to sign up for my e-letter and get access to all the free self-development resources (e-books, mini-guides + worksheets) in the Always Well Within Library. May you be happy, well, and safe – always. With love, Sandra