The Path with a Heart


          Anything is one of a million paths. Therefore you must always keep in mind that a path is only a path; if you feel you should not follow it, you must not stay with it under any conditions. To have such clarity you must lead a disciplined life. Only then will you know that any path is only a path, and there is no affront, to oneself or to another, in dropping it if that is what your heart tells you to do. But your decision to keep on the path or to leave it must be free of fear or ambition.
          I warn you, look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary, Then ask yourself, and yourself alone, one question. This question is one that only a very old man asks. My benefactor told me about it once when I was very young, and my blood was too vigorous for me to understand it. Now I understand it. I will tell you what it is: Does this path have a heart?
          All paths are the same: they lead nowhere. They are paths going through the bush, or into the bush. In my own life I could say I have traversed long, long paths, but I am not anywhere. My benefactor's question has meaning now Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good: if it doesn't, it is of no use.
          Both paths lead nowhere; but one has a heart; the other doesn't. One makes for a joyful journey; as long as you follow it, you are one with it. The other makes you curse your life. One makes you strong; the other weakens you.
          The trouble is that nobody asks the question; and when a man finally realizes that he has taken a path without a heart, the path is ready to kill him. At that point very few men can stop to deliberate, and leave the path.
          A path without heart is never enjoyable. You have to work hard even to take it. On the other hand, a path with a heart is easy; it does not make you work at liking it.
          For me there is only the traveling on paths that have heart, on any path that may have heart. There I travel, and the only worth-while challenge is to traverse its full length. Any there I travel looking, looking, breathlessly.

-----Don Juan, A Yaqui Warrior; as told to Carlos Castaneda

          "Shindokan" is the name of our Dojo. It is the Japanese way of saying "Path with a Heart", and reflects our approach to the Study, the Teaching, and the Practice of the Martial Art of Aikido. We support being "beyond style or affiliation" and invite all to practice with us here, regardless of style, in the Spirit of Harmony and Peace.