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A Path With Heart, Part 1

Lobes of the Brain image by Henry Vandyke Carter

Sometimes it takes a shock to awaken us, to connect us with our path. Several years ago I was called to visit a man in a San Francisco hospital by his sister. He was in his late thirties and already rich. He had a construction company, a sailboat, a ranch, a townhouse, the works. One day when driving along in his BMW, he blacked out. Tests showed that he had a brain tumor, a melanoma, a rapid-growing kind of cancer. The doctor said, “We want to operate on you, but I must warn you that the tumor is in the speech and comprehension center. If we remove the tumor, you may lose all your ability to read, to write, to speak, to understand any language. If we don’t operate, you probably have six more weeks to live. Please consider this. We want to operate in the morning. Let us know by then.”

I visited this man that evening. He had become very quiet and reflective. As you can imagine, he was in an extraordinary state of consciousness. Such an awakening will sometimes come from our spiritual practice, but for him it came through these exceptional circumstances. When we spoke, this man did not talk about his ranch or sailboat or his money. Where he was headed, they don’t take the currency of bankbooks and BMW’s. All that is of value in times of great change is the currency of our heart — the ability and understandings of the heart that have grown before us. 

Jack Kornfield
from A Path with Heart; A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life
To be continued . . .