Q: The popular line seems to go something like this: “The Heart says only yes and has no fear. Therefore, if you fear something in the future, it’s illusory. Therefore, go do that thing.” After many years of experimenting, I’ve come to the conclusion that:
1) Fear of tomorrow can be simple egoic fear.
2) Fear of tomorrow can be the Heart saying, “You won’t like it if you do it.”
3) Fear of tomorrow can be the Heart saying, “No harm in it, but it’s just not in the cards.”
It can be difficult when—to use my current situation—you desperately need a vacation, you are invited to go on a trip, all signs are go, and then there’s an inner block. That block could be inertia, egoic fear of change, the idea that the last time I made a trip it was a lot of wasted effort, or that all work and no play has made me a stick-in-the-mud. Or it could be the Heart saying either #2 or #3 above. In my experience, the Heart is not always sweetness and light. But it’s impossible to tell the negative mode of the Heart from simple egoic fear.
A: There is no formula that always applies. However, in most cases, it is either #1, egoic fear, or #3, the Heart lightly suggesting that that is not a fruitful direction. I would point out that even egoic fear has some truth to it. What we fear can happen and sometimes it actually does happen.
When a fear arises, what is more important to discriminate is how important is it if what you fear does happen and how important is it to think about right now? The mind will tell you that every fear is equally important, but the Heart can tell you how important each fear really is. Most fears are not that important, which is why they contract our awareness and sense of self. That contraction can be a sign that the choice is not that important or, more directly, that responding to that particular fear right now in this moment is not that important. For example, if you have a fearful thought about being injured in a car accident, that is most likely a random thought that doesn’t have any significance in this moment. You may not even be driving. The contraction you experience when you focus on that thought is letting you know how unimportant that thought is right now or, you could say, how little truth it has.
In contrast, when your intuition is working and steering you away from a less than fruitful outcome, there will be a deeper sense of opening or expansion associated with that thought or impulse. You may have a strong impulse to take another route home, and it just feels true to do so. You may never know why you had that impulse. This may fit with one of your earlier questions about how sometimes when you follow your intuitions not much seems to come of it. Maybe the point was for not much to come of it!
What a delightful puzzle these day-to-day decisions are! Do I go on a vacation or stay home? Will it work out the way I want or will I lose my shirt? What should I do? How can I know? Sometimes our Heart contracts when we ponder a fear or a potential positive direction because it’s simply not time yet to know what to do about that subject.
The content of our fears and even of our intuitions is not very important. The amazing thing about your true nature as limitless, eternal consciousness is that it doesn’t matter that much if you successfully avoid a negative outcome or follow your intuitions to a positive outcome. Your consciousness can’t really be harmed—or benefited. Consciousness simply loves existing and experiencing, so even when you have an accident, consciousness is fine.
There is an intelligence and wisdom inherent in consciousness, so it naturally leans toward outcomes that will bring the most richness and appropriateness to your experience. But consciousness is so good at unfolding life that even when we completely ignore our deepest intuitions and, instead, react to our most superficial egoic desires and fears, the intelligence of our Being just picks up the thread wherever we end up and unfolds life from this new point, like a car’s navigation system: If you ignore an instruction given by your car’s navigation system, the system will first try to get you to turn around, and if you ignore that instruction, the system recalculates an entirely new route to your destination based on where you are now. Our inner guidance is like that: Its capacity for guiding us isn’t harmed by our ego’s distractions and detours.
Sorting these subtle, inner promptings out from the less meaningful chatter of your mind is mostly a matter of noticing how much a thought opens your Heart and quiets your mind. Whatever you discover is good. If a thought contracts your Heart and makes your mind very busy, great! Then, you know there is no need to consider that thought any further. However, I would also suggest that when it comes to your day-to-day movements and actions, you hold the whole process lightly. It ultimately is not that important whether you succeed or fail at most things in life.
The real gift of listening to your Heart in this way is that it means you are in the habit of listening to your Heart. Then if something truly important and profound arises in your awareness, you are present enough to notice not only the specific content of your realization, but also the profound depth and reality it has. For example, if you suddenly realize how everything that moves in life is a movement of love, this realization will open your Heart much more than any knowing about the practical activities of your life. If you notice this opening in your Heart, you can simply know that what you realized is true beyond any doubt or fear. There is only love, and it is beating your heart, giving you your intuitions, and unfolding life in a glorious and mysterious way every moment.