The Heart Steps Up

What this world needs most right now is more heart.


Open Your Heart to Live

In the last few months, my connection to my heart has strengthened tremendously. I had no idea it was possible to feel the ways that I have. My heart has been like a fire hose these days. It’s not fiery or painfully passionate—that’s not the right way to describe it. It feels more like singing. It’s a pleasurable feeling for sure.

But sometimes, when I try to close my heart by partaking in activities I don’t feel good about, I experience physical pain in my chest. I worry about my health failing. It’s quite obvious to me that physical and emotional health are inextricably linked.

It isn’t about avoiding stress per se. It’s about keeping your heart open. When your heart speaks to you and you listen, you will have to do a lot of work and face many fears. However, doing these things will feel good to you, because you are on the right path—the path of growth.

On the same token, doing things that are very simple yet which you feel neutral or wrong about can kill you. Folding up newspapers and putting them in plastic bags is not a stressful task—it isn’t complex or difficult. But it’s meaningless. In the bigger picture of life, it is valueless. This task does not promote life. It may be brainless, but to waste your life on such an activity will do damage to you.

Truthfully, I find it much easier to write a 5000 word article than to bag 60 newspapers. In fact, I would rather spend 13 hours running everyday than spending one hour of each day delivering newspapers (yes, Kim has a new job in case you were wondering—hahaha!). I think the running would be easier. I’m not kidding.

How can this be? Because running promotes life. This isn’t just about living longer. I would like to live a long life, but that isn’t why I run. I run because it is life. When I run—that is also when I live. I enter a state of flow, where the effort of continuing onward for 50 miles becomes, in the larger scope of things, effortless—even if I have to drag one of my legs along for the last 10 miles.

21 hours and 62.5 miles in the middle of Winter, continuing onward all hours of the night, pain all throughout the lower half of my body, and the last 12.5 of those miles takes me 6 hours? One of the most amazing experiences of my life. I’d do it again. And I’d certainly take it over a mindless, heartless, soulless job any day—no matter how much it paid.


The Path of Intelligence

The scope of this article is not limited only to the heart. What I have also come across lately is a higher spirit of sorts—a universal intelligence. The pursuit of growth, it appears, is really about the recognition that we are this intelligence, and we ought to develop it. I call it “universal” because I see it everywhere. It encompasses all things. Additionally, you could say that we all have it—or, really, that we all are it.

The prospect of devoting my life to the development of intelligence is incredibly inspiring to me. It appears now that the last several years of my life have been a steady progression of recognizing, understanding, and accepting this prospect. It’s taken almost two and a half years to come into the understanding that the physicality of this world is not what this world is all about—it is the overlying intelligence which governs it.

Of course, I’m certain that I still have a long way to go to really, truly, and fully understand this and bring my life into line with it. I thought I had it when I did my second Subjective Reality 30 day trial one year ago, and my third six months ago. I thought I had it when I wrote my Book, which I completed one month ago.

But now, I’m really getting knocked in the head with this. And it isn’t a knock, so much as being surrounded by it. It feels more like a light, warm energy is swirling around me—that’s one way I imagine this intelligence. And it’s quite nice. It’s like opening the dishwasher and getting bathed in amazingly warm steam—only this is better. J

The question life poses to us in every moment is, Do you trust me? Your answer determines what you will center your life around, in that moment. If you answer Yes, then you will be focused on giving, creating, sharing, and growing. If you answer No, then you will be focused on protecting yourself and on taking, and you will be afraid.

For me, the first path is the path of intelligence. The second one can be intelligent, but only if you choose it exclusively. If you switch back and forth, you’ll just have a chaotic, screaming mess to deal with— and one with unbrushed hair, at that.

When you choose to always answer Yes, growth is certain for you. If you say “Yes” and mean it, you can’t not grow. It’s part of the contract. This is more of side benefit, but it also seems to be a mandate that you can’t not be disgustingly fulfilled when you say “Yes” and follow through with it. Pleasant surprises are bound to come your way; though, of course, they are tough to expect.

Just like ultramarathons and delivering newspapers, the path of trust (a yes answer) is much easier than the path of distrust. When you answer No, you have to somehow convince the universe that your sole, piddly, limp body is worth protecting. Against the backdrop of the massive, all-encompassing, extremely powerful intelligence of all that is, you can expect a No right back.


World of Intelligence

The path of trust constantly asks you to step up your game. Intelligence wants to keep going, and going, and going, and, as a conduit of this intelligence, it wants you to go along for the ride. And when you accept that this intelligence is what you are, and thus its path is the right path for you, it’s pretty easy to just go.

You’ll have to take a lot of action, alright. But those actions will occur within a state of flow—outflow, to be specific. You allow creation to flow outward from you, rather than trying to pull resources inward (which is what you attempt to do when you choose to distrust).

As long as you remain in this state of outflow, it is difficult for anything to hurt you. You’ll probably forget any notions about life being pointless or endlessly painful, you’ll probably forget to care about reputation and status, and, depending on what you’re doing (i.e. not ultrarunning), you’ll probably even forget to eat.

But that’s okay. Aside from the food, you don’t need any of that stuff. Your true needs lie with the needs of intelligence. Intelligence wants to evolve. To do this, it wants you to see reality accurately. It wants you to engage fully with reality—specifically, with its reality. The events of life will still occur at the level of physicality, of course. But physicality isn’t really what it’s all about. This is a world of symbols, and we live through those symbols. A symbol is just a holding cell for what it really stands for. And when the whole world is made of symbols, you only need to look at things a little more deeply and a little more clearly to see true meaning flowing everywhere.

These words are simply the containers for a message that is energetic in essence. It is a message that speaks to higher principles, whether it is aligned with those principles or misaligned with them. What do you sense in these words? Truth? Do they tap into your internal wells of power? Do they crack open your heart, and allow love to flow forth? Do these words lead you to consider that reality is well-beyond its physical aspects—that there is more to this existence than what you see on the surface?

Intelligence is the place of joy. It is when we go there- and only when we go there- that we are joyful. Cowardice, stagnation, falsehood, disconnection—what is joyful about these things? Endlessly protecting yourself through stability until you die—does that sound intelligent to you? Does that pursuit brings you joy? Or do you instead experience constant worry, with small, occasional pockets of what you only believe to be joy? Why can’t you step into this joy for all time?

What about our physical needs? If we’re constantly focused on the non-physical aspects of life, how can we meet our physical needs? Well, I’ll ask you this: you’re still here, right? Has life yet let you down so badly that you no longer exist? Unless you’re a ghost, of course it hasn’t.

Another question: has your higher intelligence ever led you astray? Perhaps its path frightened you at first, but in time you were grateful for it—yes?

Think about a time you did something you were afraid to do—a time when you allowed your heart to open and to be heard. At first, when you were anticipating the event, it probably sucked. You probably peed yourself. But after you did it, you probably felt awesome. You ran to the top of a mountain, beat on your chest like a gorilla, and then threw a lightning bolt sent from the Gods down to Earth. Then you went home, and food tasted better than it ever had before. The people around you looked more beautiful—even the ones you hate. Your mom was less annoying. Your dog was less needy. Your shoes, after that long mountain trek, somehow didn’t smell as bad. Everything was awesome, because you did something awesome. You made awesomeness.

You are the commander of your life here, chief, and you get what you make. If you step up to the plate, you can hit a home run, which is awesome. If you don’t, you inevitably go home unfulfilled. Then you try to convince yourself that you didn’t really want to anyway, which is a lie, and then you lay down in bed after an untasty dinner and sulk until you fall asleep for five hours and wake up the next morning to go to your job which you pretend to like but don’t. Indeed, it sucks to suck.


Stand with Both Feet in One World

So, those physical needs. For one thing, it seems we’re so need only when we are on the distrustful, unintelligent path. I alluded to it earlier—when I’m in the state of flow, I don’t think so much about food and warmth and whatnot. When I run 50+ miles, I feel like a beast (even if I’m commanding a solid 14 minutes/mile pace). Rain all day? Snow all night? Fine with me. I barely even notice.

But then when I go back to my stupid house with its stupidness, I somehow feel the need to wrap myself in 40 blankets and close all the windows and be spoon-fed until I fall asleep (okay, I’m not really that bad). I can’t have one foot in both worlds. Either I’m in the flow and everything is awesome, or I’m not.

In general, it’s much easier to choose either one extreme or the other. Commit your whole self to the path or don’t bother with it at all. Eat a diet filled with processed foods or eat extremely clean 1000% percent of the time. Either one of those is easier than eating sorta-clean 5 days a week and then cheating on the weekends. Plus, they produce much stronger results more quickly. It’s easier to hit bottom when you’re 100% on the bad path, and then realize you need to hop with both legs over to the good path. And it’s much easier to stay 100% on the good path when you’re already there all the time.

Commitments of this sort can help you to open your heart. For example, right now I’m in my third “phase” of the last 3 years of being vegetarian/vegan. The first was in early 2013—I was vegetarian. The second was for several months in 2014—I was vegan. Now, I’ve been vegan for 5 months. In between this phase and the last, I was, as I called myself “almost-vegan.” At the time I thought I was super cool for it, but now, I think I looked like an idiot. What a dumb label that is!

Up until this 3rd and current vegan “phase,” I was always hesitant to really embrace this path. During the first phase I was underweight, and I gave way to meat because I thought that was the only way I would return to a healthy size. During the second phase and beyond, I thought being vegan was stupid healthwise, though still better than eating processed animal products. So if there happened to be a little cheese on my food somehow, I figured it was good for me. I wasn’t really committed.

This time, however, I started by deciding to commit to this path purely and unquestioningly for 30 straight days. By the end of that time period I liked it so much that I decided I would keep going until my next ultramarathon, so I could finally see whether I really needed animal products to get me through such an event. By the time I did ran that ultra one month ago (4 months into the “trial”), something in me had clicked. The world around me changed.

There was no longing for animal products at all anymore. I can barely look at them and regard them as food. Prior to this trial I had never really felt sorrowful for the suffering of factory farmed animals, even though I knew about it.

But now, I’ve been hit with a sudden surge of emotion. I didn’t ask for this to happen, nor did I expect it to. It just did. In fact, I never wanted to identify with ethical veganism, but it looks like that’s where I am now. When I look into my heart, I cannot deny that I care.

I really thought I was going to go back after my last ultra, but I’ve had no desire to re-cross the bridge. I’m on this side 100% now, and I can’t imagine not being here. It feels right to me in both heart and in conscience, and so here I will stay.

The point of this isn’t to convince you that you should be vegan. The point, rather, is that it is much easier to stay 100% committed when you make such a commitment in the first place.

Some people will regard my decision as unwise—as unintelligent. Perhaps I need to cross back over that bridge—this time beyond the gray area of almost-veganism and all the way over to Paleo.

But when I consult my intelligence, I see the path I have chosen as the right one for myself. Even if consuming meat does no harm to the environment and is in the best interest of human health, I can’t convince myself that I want to take part in it. Perhaps my decision is based excessively on emotion, but I do like the way that I feel when I eat this way, so I will continue with it.

Generally, I find that the path that feels the best- which produces the least internal conflict, and instead the most peace- is the path with the most growth and the highest intelligence. This path also tends to be the path of contribution. If seeing reality accurately is what allows you to function well, and thus to feel good, then the overlap of intelligent action and internal peace is a given.

But somehow there is no sense of a need to push this truth on to others. I can share what is true for me, but I don’t need to make other people believe it or agree with it.

At the same time, it doesn’t feel like I live in my own little world, and what is true for me personally is all that counts. I suppose this is the space of a Subjective Reality, where I can know truth only through my own being, yet my real identity lies with consciousness itself, rather than my squiggly little body. So it isn’t confirming truths about the physical world per se that matters, nor is it about creating my world from complete scratch.

Really, this whole shebang is a path of unfolding development. It’s not about setting things in cold black and white, nor is it about swimming around in a world of warm feelings. Somehow, it is about both. It is about finding the place where logic and emotion overlap. It’s about allowing the physical and the non-physical to guide one another. It’s about seeking truths about the physical world while also paying mind to the unfolding of truth within.

It’s interesting. To get strong, desirable results, you have to be 100% committed to a certain path. And yet, there isn’t really an end to the path. There’s no point of 100% completion.

In the present, it always feels like you’re 99% of the way there. Then when you look back a few months later, you see that you were only 50% of the way at best. You have to keep going, just like intelligence wants you to. There’s always another set of lessons. The next level is always waiting. Stay in the flow of the game you’ve chosen, and the levels will start to fly by faster and faster.

The point of this game, though, is not necessarily to get to the end. The point, really, is to play the game itself. The game of life is about evolution (growth). All you have to do is play that game of evolution.

Everyone is playing that game, really. But some people imagine they’re playing a different game. They’re trying to play the game of security. When they do that, they stop advancing. They stay on the same level for years on end. They’ve stopped putting effort into the real point of the game, which is to play the damn game. But it’s not that hard, man.

Would you sit there with a controller in your hands for five years and do nothing, while that one stale image burns itself forever into your TV screen? Or would you flip the joystick around and do something? Surely it would be much easier to play the game than do nothing. At least it’ll distract you from the fact that you live in your mom’s basement.


Peer Into the Void

I know—when you stop playing the game for a while, the thought of starting again can be scary. You have to start fighting monsters again. You have to start moving around again. You have to start talking to people and put yourself on the line and actually be a real human being.

And that’s scary, because you don’t remember- or you never knew- what it’s like to be a real human being. A big part of the game is to find that out. Discover what it’s like. Expose yourself to new things. Listen to the voice of your incredibly powerful heart. Find some values and stick to them. Be honorable. Find something worth living for and devote yourself to it.

These things are scary because they push you to the edge and force you to look into the void—the void of uncertainty, the void of the ephemeral nature of your very existence. But what really lies in that void, because it lies in all things, is the massive expanse of universal intelligence. It’s scary because it is vast and powerful beyond human comprehension. It could dangle you by the back of your spaghetti-sauced T-shirt. It could complete your calculus homework in an instant. It could make you cry for your mother (spoiler: it has).

When you meet with this void where intelligence lies, you are forced to question your present ideas about your existence. When you go to the edge, you are on the brink of realizing that some of your current beliefs and ways are wrong, and it is time to change. This is scary because you have rested your very reality on these ways, and you believe that if you give them up, you will die. Of course, each time you say Yes and you choose to trust in the endless void that lies on your path, it takes you to a new path- a better one- and you now can live more than you have ever lived before.

This is the process of growth.

When you listen to your heart, you will be lead to the void. It is inevitable. Your heart wants you to go there. But this is not to torture you. Instead, it is so your heart can open more fully, and be heard more clearly. It is in that void where strength and infinite love lie. It is in the space where you believe you will meet with death that you find life.

This is why the world needs more heart: so that we all can truly begin to live. I know—the goal of living seems pretentious when you’re trying to survive. Who has time for that? Won’t that kill me? How strange our ideas about life are: we fear it, yet we cling so hard to that which is not life, meanwhile believing that it indeed is life.

But if you are stagnating, trying to run from fear and death and meanwhile being overtaken by these things, then none of your stagnation-promoting efforts will bring you life. No taste-filled sensation or flashy television show or night of sex will bring you life, because you are not alive. You will eat, but you will not taste, nor will you be filled. You will watch, but you will not see. You will speak, but you will not think, nor will you be heard. What you work so hard to protect is not life. And if it is not life it is not worth protecting, because living is the only valuable thing that can be done with this life.

If instead you seek to consult the source of life- your higher intelligence- then you shall find all of life that you need. You will never be in want, because at last your needs will be aligned with the needs of the universe.

When you seek to live in such a way that the universe expresses itself through you, how can you possibly be in lack? Is that not everything? When you attend to your higher needs, the few physical needs you have will be filled easily, because you at last will be intelligent enough to fill them easily.

The physical world operates more so in your favor when you choose to focus on the non-physical. It is only then that you can both eat and taste, watch and see, think and speak, love and be loved. After all, it is the controller of the game who has wants and needs, and thoughts and feelings—not the game characters themselves. It is only the controller who desires and chooses to play the game. The characters simply act in line with his desires. So, too, does the game world.


The Strength of the Heart

Choose to open your heart, and to become more sensitive to its needs. In this way, you will become stronger. Sensitivity and true strength increase together—they do not conflict. True strength lies in your ability to peer into the void and say, “I will go forth.” And it is your heart that leads you there.

Live with heart, and live for intelligence. When you do these things, you will at last begin to live.

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