Look at every path closely and deliberately.
Try it as many times as you think necessary.
Then ask yourself, and yourself alone....
Does this path have a heart?
If it does, the path is good.
If it doesn't, it is of no use.
It can be difficult to make an important decision; often you may have no idea what to do, or how to decide, or you may feel torn between seemingly opposite choices. Or the consequences of taking a stand and making a decision may invoke fear: what if this is the "wrong" decision, you may ask; you may have a history of shame associated with making mistakes or wrong decisions, with not being perfect.
There may be a lot riding on this decision: a relationship, a pregnancy, a job, a course of study, or other major life transition. It can be extremely nerve-wracking to turn the options over and over in your mind, asking others for advice or feedback, feeling confused and paralyzed.
Castaneda's criteria for making a decision is the best I have encountered, and certainly one I have seen and experienced as successful. It is important to explore each path, each possibility thoroughly and thoughtfully. To research options, to think it through, to meditate and contemplate, to discuss with trusted others.
Often the choice comes down to what the mind thinks is right and what the heart or intuition knows is right. Our culture teaches us to value the mind more than the heart, so it can be difficult to truly listen to and trust the heart's desire. Ultimately the litmus test is: does this path have heart? Does it come from my heart? Am I wholehearted about it? I have never known this to fail. Give it a try!
Peggy Handler, MFT, is a psychotherapist in San Francisco's Noe Valley