Path With Heart

Jack Kornfield

listen_btn

Image of the WeekIn undertaking a spiritual life, what matters is simple: We must make certain that our path is connected with our heart. In the end, spiritual life is not a process of seeking or gaining some extraordinary condition or special powers. In fact, such seeking can take us away from ourselves. If we are not careful, we can easily find the great failures of our modern society—its ambition, materialism, and individual isolation—repeated in our spiritual life. In beginning a genuine spiritual journey, we have to stay much closer to home, to focus directly on what is right here in front of us, to make sure that our path is connected with our deepest love.

When we ask, “Am I following a path with heart?” we discover that no one can define for us exactly what our path should be. We must look at the values we have chosen to live by. Where do we put our time, our strength, our creativity, our love? We must look at our life without sentimentality, exaggeration, or idealism. Does what we are choosing reflect what we most deeply value? If we are still and listen deeply, even for a moment, we will know if we are following a path with heart.

The things that matter most in our lives are not fantastic or grand. They are the moments when we touch one another, when we are there in the most attentive or caring way. This simple and profound intimacy is the love that we all long for. These moments of touching and being touched can become a foundation for a path with heart, and they take place in the most immediate and direct way. Mother Teresa put it like this: “In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.”

In the stress and complexity of our lives, we may forget our deepest intentions. But when people come to the end of their lives and look back, the questions that they most often ask are not usually, “How much is in my bank account?” or “How many books did I write?” or “What did I build?” or the like. If you have the privilege of being with a person who is conscious at the time of his or her death, you find the  questions such a person asks are very simple, “Did I love well?” “Did I live fully?” “Did I learn to let go?”

These simple questions go to the very center of spiritual life. When we consider loving well and living fully, we can see the ways our attachments and fears have limited us, and we can see the many opportunities for our hearts to open. Have we let ourselves love the people around us, our family, our community, the earth upon which we live? And, did we also learn to let go? Did we learn to live through the changes of life with grace, wisdom, and compassion? Have we learned to shift from the clinging mind to the joy of freedom?

All other spiritual teachings are in vain if we cannot love. Even the most exalted states and the most exceptional spiritual accomplishments are unimportant if we cannot be happy in the most basic and ordinary ways, if, with our hearts, we cannot touch one another and the life we have been given. What matters is how we live. This is why it is so difficult and so important to ask this question of ourselves: “Am I living my path fully, do I live without regret?” so that we can say on whatever day is the end of our life, “Yes, I have lived my path with heart.”

Jack Kornfield has been a spiritual teacher for decades, authored many books, and is the founder of Spirit Rock Meditation center.

Seed questions for reflection: How do you relate to the notion that the things that matter the most to us are not fantastic and grand, but the moments in which we are caring and attentive toward each other? Can you share a personal story of a time you saw many opportunities for your heart to open and took them? What helps you live your path with heart?

Add Your Reflection:

10 Previous Reflections:

  • link
    On Jun 2, 2021 Philip Morkel wrote:
    I would so much love to follow my heart all the time. I truly believe my upbringing in a house with 5 children and a loving stay-at-home mother, to whom my friends had always referred to as "their mother", and a father who showed his love through hard work and caring for his family, that I live with my heart being kind, caring and loving of and to my family, my children and my animals first and foremost, and then extending that principle to those other children and animals close to my heart. I now, however live in a country, which is extremely regulated and where the people around us are extremely selfish, disrespectful and self-righteous. In claimingaggressively their rights to self preservation,rights, which are bestowed onto them by their government,their history surfaces as anundercurrentofunderlyingarrogance, abrasiveness and being obnoxious to the needs of others. This may be a generalization, as there areloving and caring people around, with whom we have established lo... [View Full Comment] I would so much love to follow my heart all the time. I truly believe my upbringing in a house with 5 children and a loving stay-at-home mother, to whom my friends had always referred to as "their mother", and a father who showed his love through hard work and caring for his family, that I live with my heart being kind, caring and loving of and to my family, my children and my animals first and foremost, and then extending that principle to those other children and animals close to my heart.
    I now, however live in a country, which is extremely regulated and where the people around us are extremely selfish, disrespectful and self-righteous. In claimingaggressively their rights to self preservation,rights, which are bestowed onto them by their government,their history surfaces as anundercurrentofunderlyingarrogance, abrasiveness and being obnoxious to the needs of others. This may be a generalization, as there areloving and caring people around, with whom we have established loving and caring friendships. In the end it sadly remains a self-protectionist environment, where the state is also the state of mind.
    I will try and live by the heart and respect what I was taught, ..................but it is difficult at times![Hide Full Comment]

    1 reply: Jo | Post Your Reply
  • link
    On Jun 1, 2021 Jo wrote:
    "In beginning a genuine spiritual journey, we have to stay much closer to home, to focus directly on what is right here in front of us ....They are the moments when we touch one another...". This segment of today's reading most jumps out for me! So much good I read in these reflections shared! I love! Thank you! (You, spiritually "touched me".)

    Post Your Reply
  • link
    On Jun 1, 2021 Cathy wrote:
    So well stated and framed, it resonates deeply with me and my heart.
    I am reminded forma passage from the Don Juan books by Castenadathat reflect a similar guide. " Ask yourself, and yourself alone: Is this a path with a heart?".

    Post Your Reply
  • link
    On Jun 1, 2021 Patrick wrote:
    In my 70's I have come to see that it is in silence and solitude firstly that we are enabled to walk in our hearts and love others. For in silence and solitude we simply practice the presence of Divine LOVE from Whom we emanate. }:- a.m

    1 reply: Me | Post Your Reply
  • link
    On Jun 1, 2021 Lisa wrote:
    As we listen with our hearts, so should we listen with our whole bodies. Bringing out bodies and minds back together to live as one. This is where we will find compassion and love and all of ouractionscan then com from this wellspring. My mom is 98 years old and sometimes it really tries my patience to be with her and take care of her, and then I remember that for almost 99 years she has been walking this earth and spent many, many years caring for me. Although our relationship wasn't perfect, I knew that she always has loved me and her actions came from a loving heart. This, in turn, floods my heart with love and compassion and taking care of her is done with ease and love.

    Post Your Reply
  • link
    On Jun 1, 2021 Jennifer wrote:
    Path with heart vs heart's path. I have been (or trying) to live the path I am on with heart as opposed to living my heart's path. The difference between making the most out of a journey on a rudderless boat and steering the boat perhaps. Thank you to the author for giving me the opportunity to think aboutthis. 

    Post Your Reply
  • link
    On May 30, 2021 Jagdish P Dave wrote:
    The fist sentence of thispassage by Jack Kornfield says it all. "In spiritual life, what matters is simple:We make it certain that our path is connected with our heart. Our spiritual journeyis a journey of caring, love and kindness. It is important to pay our attention when our heart is focused on the core values of our life. Whatwe do is in alignment with our core spiritual values such as kindness, compassion and caring.The three questionsstated by the author are very pertinent for living a spiritual life. " Did I love well?" "Dis I live fully? "Did I learn to let go" My mother was illiterate. She lived a very simple life. Her hear was full of love and compassion.She used to say in my mother tongue. When you feed someone who is hungry your heart is filled with abundance and grace. My friends used to come to visit me. They always said to me thatwhatever simple food she my mother made tasted more sweetthan the food they ate their house.. It was the sweetnes... [View Full Comment] The fist sentence of thispassage by Jack Kornfield says it all. "In spiritual life, what matters is simple:We make it certain that our path is connected with our heart. Our spiritual journeyis a journey of caring, love and kindness. It is important to pay our attention when our heart is focused on the core values of our life. Whatwe do is in alignment with our core spiritual values such as kindness, compassion and caring.The three questionsstated by the author are very pertinent for living a spiritual life. " Did I love well?" "Dis I live fully? "Did I learn to let go"
    My mother was illiterate. She lived a very simple life. Her hear was full of love
    and compassion.She used to say in my mother tongue. When you feed someone who is hungry your heart is filled with abundance and grace. My friends used to come to visit me. They always said to me thatwhatever simple food she my mother made tasted more sweetthan the food they ate their house.. It was the sweetness of her heart that made foodvery sweet. She taught me how to live spiritually.

    When I serve others from my heart I feel fulfilled and very happy. The lesson I learned from my mother has beena guiding star for me. She taught me a lesson of how to live fully. She showed methe path with heart.



    [Hide Full Comment]

    Post Your Reply
  • link
    On May 28, 2021 David Doane wrote:
    It's been said to put your money where your mouth is. At least as important is to put your path or make your path where your heart is. All existence is one. We are one. What we do to anyone we do to everyone. So, it makes good sense to be caring and attentive to one and all, which endeavor matters the most and is fantastic and grand. Your heart is more likely to know that than your brain. Go your heart path. Every moment is an opportunity for one's heart to open. Some opportunities I take, and when I do, I'm present, open, honest, and compassionate from my heart, with no agenda or goal which come from thinking. What helps me live my heart path is trusting my heart, knowing that compared to my head my heart is less conditioned and less conniving, more present and primitive, more real and honest.

    Post Your Reply

Search Awakin Readings

Or search by year, author, or category.

Subscribe to Weekly Email

Every week, we send out a digest with a reading and inspiring stories to our global community of 93,517 people. Subscribe below.

(unsubscribe)

Contact Us

If you'd like to suggest a thought or want to drop us a suggestion, drop us a note.