I will not value what is valueless – from last year’s writing. Another good lesson!
I will not value what is valueless – it’s a lesson that we probably all need to learn. The Course aims at teaching what it is we really want. The ego’s response to this is to get all bent out of shape, acting as if we are being asked to live like monks and give up all worldly possessions; but it’s not about the stuff and it’s not about sacrificing worldly pleasures. It’s about priorities. Although ego wants to make that about material pleasures, it’s not. It’s about experience and those may or may not come from “things.”
Remember – only the love is real; the illusion (which is all the temporary stuff) is inconsequential.
It was a discussion our Tuesday night group began after the close of class the other night, born from the lesson, The world I see holds nothing that I want. Ego goes berzerk when it seems like we are attempting to take away its stuff. But as this lesson reminds us, “You do not ask too much of life, but far too little.” God isn’t trying to deny us nice things. We aren’t asked to sacrifice. But we are asked to examine intention. We are looking for win-wins here. If my gain comes at the expense of someone else, I haven’t gained at all. “Who seeks to take away has been deceived by the illusion loss can offer gain. Yet loss must offer loss, and nothing more.”
I love how practical A Course in Miracles is. Its goal is to be practical and not to induce loss. It is about living in sufficiency, not greed. My opinion is that Americans are so practiced at consumerism that we are not always good at distinguishing the difference.
For myself, what I notice is that some of my habits are born from ego consciousness not spirit consciousness. When I shop, and mostly the only shopping I really do is grocery shopping, I have to consciously ask myself why I think I need to buy something. Frequently, because I was raised to be a good bargain hunter, it is because the item is on sale. But being on sale is not a great criterion for the purchase if it’s something I am not going to use. If I’m not going to use it, then all the perceived value (ego value – staving off loss) is valueless. Saving money by spending money on the worthless is not saving money. This is a challenging lesson for me and one I dance with frequently. My cupboards are chocked full of “good deals” that may well end up in the garbage because realistically I may not make six key lime pies before the expiration date on the box.
Just because they are canned goods or have a decently long shelf life doesn’t make them eternal. I am noticing this more and more as I prep myself for moving and try to use up our supplies.
Anyway, today’s lesson:
I will not value what is valueless.
Sometimes in teaching there is benefit, particularly after you have gone through what seems theoretical and far from what the student has already learned, to bring him back to practical concerns. This we will do today. We will not speak of lofty, world-encompassing ideas, but dwell instead on benefits to you.
You do not ask too much of life, but far too little. When you let your mind be drawn to bodily concerns, to things you buy, to eminence as valued by the world, you ask for sorrow, not for happiness. This course does not attempt to take from you the little that you have. It does not try to substitute utopian ideas for satisfactions which the world contains. There are no satisfactions in the world.
Today we list the real criteria by which to test all things you think you want. Unless they meet these sound requirements, they are not worth desiring at all, for they can but replace what offers more. The laws that govern choice you cannot make, no more than you can make alternatives from which to choose. The choosing you can do; indeed, you must. But it is wise to learn the laws you set in motion when you choose, and what alternatives you choose between.
We have already stressed there are but two, however many there appear to be. The range is set, and this we cannot change. It would be most ungenerous to you to let alternatives be limitless, and thus delay your final choice until you had considered all of them in time; and not been brought so clearly to the place where there is but one choice that must be made.
Another kindly and related law is that there is no compromise in what your choice must bring. It cannot give you just a little, for there is no in between. Each choice you make brings everything to you or nothing. Therefore, if you learn the tests by which you can distinguish everything from nothing, you will make the better choice.
First, if you choose a thing that will not last forever, what you chose is valueless. A temporary value is without all value. Time can never take away a value that is real. What fades and dies was never there, and makes no offering to him who chooses it. He is deceived by nothing in a form he thinks he likes.
Next, if you choose to take a thing away from someone else, you will have nothing left. This is because, when you deny his right to everything, you have denied your own. You therefore will not recognize the things you really have, denying they are there. Who seeks to take away has been deceived by the illusion loss can offer gain. Yet loss must offer loss, and nothing more.
Your next consideration is the one on which the others rest. Why is the choice you make of value to you? What attracts your mind to it? What purpose does it serve? Here it is easiest of all to be deceived. For what the ego wants it fails to recognize. It does not even tell the truth as it perceives it, for it needs to keep the halo which it uses to protect its goals from tarnish and from rust, that you may see how “innocent” it is.
Yet is its camouflage a thin veneer, which could deceive but those who are content to be deceived. Its goals are obvious to anyone who cares to look for them. Here is deception doubled, for the one who is deceived will not perceive that he has merely failed to gain. He will believe that he has served the ego’s hidden goals.
Yet though he tries to keep its halo clear within his vision, still must he perceive its tarnished edges and its rusted core. His ineffectual mistakes appear as sins to him, because he looks upon the tarnish as his own; the rust a sign of deep unworthiness within himself. He who would still preserve the ego’s goals and serve them as his own makes no mistakes, according to the dictates of his guide. This guidance teaches it is error to believe that sins are but mistakes, for who would suffer for his sins if this were so?
And so we come to the criterion for choice that is the hardest to believe, because its obviousness is overlaid with many levels of obscurity. If you feel any guilt about your choice, you have allowed the ego’s goals to come between the real alternatives. And thus you do not realize there are but two, and the alternative you think you chose seems fearful, and too dangerous to be the nothingness it actually is.
All things are valuable or valueless, worthy or not of being sought at all, entirely desirable or not worth the slightest effort to obtain. Choosing is easy just because of this. Complexity is nothing but a screen of smoke, which hides the very simple fact that no decision can be difficult. What is the gain to you in learning this? It is far more than merely letting you make choices easily and without pain.
Heaven itself is reached with empty hands and open minds, which come with nothing to find everything and claim it as their own. We will attempt to reach this state today, with self-deception laid aside, and with an honest willingness to value but the truly valuable and the real. Our two extended practice periods of fifteen minutes each begin with this:
I will not value what is valueless,
and only what has value do I seek,
for only that do I desire to find.
And then receive what waits for everyone who reaches, unencumbered, to the gate of Heaven, which swings open as he comes. Should you begin to let yourself collect some needless burdens, or believe you see some difficult decisions facing you, be quick to answer with this simple thought:
I will not value what is valueless,
for what is valuable belongs to me.
© Foundation for Inner Peace • PO Box 598 • Mill Valley, CA 94942-0598
When I read this lesson, I was hoping for a simple litmus test and this lesson doesn’t really provide one as simply as I’d like. So, I am going to distill it down for myself.
- Is it temporary? Only the eternal is of value. For me, what I’m looking at here is the overall effect. Vacations are temporary but the experiences they give, the effects of those experiences can be transformative and therefore eternal.
- Is it a win-win? This goes back to motivation; to intention. If I sell someone a home that brings them years of pleasure and is a good fit for their situation, then I am doing well. If I sell someone a home that I know has problems that they are going to regret buying because they won’t have the funds to pay the mortgage and fix the issues, that is going to problematic. If my goal is to line my pockets and not to help people then I am off-track.
- What is it for? Why do I want this? (Why is the choice you make of value to you? What attracts your mind to it? What purpose does it serve?) My question is – am I teaching love? If I buy a car so that I have reliable transportation and can do my job that is different than buying it so that I look successful and can show off my success. This one can be tricky since the ego is so incredibly expert at masking its motivations.
- Does it make me feel guilty? This can be a toughie because the ego is so fucking good at making me feel guilty. The trap here is that ego doesn’t want me to know how loved I am. Ego doesn’t want me to feel deserving so it takes some training to eradicate the guilt from the equation. Why do I feel guilty? Here the layers begin to unravel; the places that beg to be healed are exposed like the raw heart after a vulnerability binge.
- Which of the two is it: fear or love? I love that the Course makes it all so simple. All or nothing. On or off. That is all encompassing (love) can have no opposite and therefore its so-called opposite is not real. Fear is an illusion. That is why it is nothing.
I love the simplicity. I love knowing that if it’s not love, it’s not worth putting my time and energy into. I will no longer value the valueless. I will catch myself and choose again. I will give up making myself feel bad (guilty) are mistakes. I will choose love. I will choose to love myself.
That’s germane. Easy to overlook, but perfectly germane. Teaching love must include love of self; if self-sacrifice (which I’m quite practiced at) is part of the equation – I’ve missed the mark. Choose again. Why do I want this? Is it so my ego can feel special or superior? If so, choose again. But if I want this so I can model for my child what a healthy self looks like – respecting myself while simultaneously respecting all others – then I am indeed on task. I am teaching love.
Thank you, God. I needed that.
Namaste, my friends, Namaste.