You have related in several posts that if you are doing something that causes you suffering, then that action is a product of your ego-mind not your heart and you should reject that guidance because it is not right for you. However, there are times when I try to do something which my heart tells me is important for me to do to make further progress on the path or get past an important problem in my life, but proceeding with that causes endless suffering and much doubt and confusion. It feels like I’m going against my nature and best interests despite my heart’s guidance.
Should I therefore question this guidance? Should I reject it?
What Am I To Do
Dear What Am I To Do,
You ask a very good question. So good, that I had to sit with it to see the answer. I knew instinctively that the answer to your question is no, but I didn’t know why. It was confusing.
The Buddha said, “If it causes you suffering, then it is not you, it is not yours, it is not yourself.” And so one should let it go. Reject it.
That teaching is absolute. There is no if’s, and’s, or but’s. So how can I advise you to not reject something that’s causing you to suffer?
Then I remembered the teaching I received on skillful v unskillful desires (see my blog post “How to Desire Yet Not Crave”). Part of that lesson was that even if you have a desire that is skillful … in keeping with the five Precepts … if it is approached from a lack of equanimity, then it becomes an unskillful desire, a craving, and you will suffer. You may still be doing good, but you will suffer. An example is that you want to help people, but you want to do that because you want to be recognized as good. The act is skillful, but the driving force is not.
In your situation, if you are trying to do something which you are sure is guidance coming from your heart, but you are suffering as you try to implement that guidance, then that tells you that you are not approaching the subject matter of the guidance with equanimity. For example, let’s say your heart is telling you to end a relationship because it’s not right for you. But you are confused and suffering because part of you really doesn’t want to end the relationship, so you don’t move forward and when you try to you are beset with pain.
The problem is that you are not approaching this relationship with equanimity. You are not able to say, “If it happens, great. If it doesn’t happen, that’s ok too.” Instead you are approaching it as something essential to your happiness, a need, a craving. And so trying to follow your heart’s guidance is causing you pain.
What you need to do before trying to implement your heart’s guidance is to put yourself in a place of equanimity regarding the relationship. There are many tools I have suggested in various posts to help you reach that place, where you view something in an unattached manner, with dispassion.
In this case, I think the most effective would be to open your heart to embrace all aspects of your being and experience, including the potential ending of this relationship. When you do that, and therefore nothing offends, you will know that you have everything you need inside yourself to be at peace and happy. And when you know that, you will have faith that regardless what life throws your way, all will be well because you will always return home to your unborn Buddha mind and thus be at peace and happy.