Part 1 Undoing the Way We See Things Now
LESSON 133 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 not so?
- And so we come to the criterion for choice that is the hardest to believe, because the 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 thus 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 decision facing you, be quick to answer with this simple thought: “I will not value what is valueless, for what is valuable belongs to me.”
Notes and Personal Application: Last year when this lesson idea first appeared in my devotional, I was smarting from a sting that was proving difficult for me to get over. Though I will not go into much detail, I will simply say that I had been lied to about and not welcomed to a family wedding. Every line in this lesson spoke to the two choices I faced: We either value the ego’s countless trifles which amount to nothing; or we choose to value only what is forever.
In verse 6, Jesus informs us: First, if we choose a thing that will not last forever, what we choose is valueless. A temporary value is without all value. (This means a temporary value like being included in a family wedding. Or being on someone’s A-list. It means nothing.) At 60, I had a lifetime of experiences in which to apply the lesson to – all the things that had beckoned and called to me from the world, dating the right kind of fellow, a sense of privilege and specialness, all that sex, fine dining, parties, memberships, weddings, and divorce celebrations – they come, they go, they take far more than they give. When I cared to look honestly, at best these things provided a momentary sense of gaiety, of belonging, a sense of adventure. My mind was filled with fond and not-so-fond memories of all kinds of such events that I had momentarily been caught up in over the years. Last year this time, mulling over this lesson and how it applied to my hurt feelings, I wondered what all the fuss could have possibly been about!
This lesson is extremely specific. Things that do not last forever includes food, clothes, relationships, bodies, cars, houses, jewels, travels, and everything that appears and happens in time. Second, if we choose to take something away from another person, we will have nothing left. How many times have we tried to take what belonged to somebody else thinking we could do a much better job of it, and ended up with nothing? It does not work that way, Jesus says. In Verse 7, He explains why – those who seek to take away have been deceived by the illusion that loss can offer gain, yet loss always offers loss and nothing more.
We are supposed to consider these three questions on which the first two premises rest: 1) Why is the choice you make of value to you?; 2) What attracts your mind to it?; 3) What purpose does it serve?
While it is awfully easy to be deceived here by the ego, Jesus assures us that only those who are content with deception will be deceived. The ego’s goals are very obvious to anyone who cares to look for them. If we are content to be deceived, here is the lie’s effect doubled, because the one who is content to be deceived by the ego will believe he not only failed to gain but believing he served the ego, will feel dirty, guilty, and ashamed, leaving him with a deep sense of unworthiness within.
Oh this is a terrible feeling. I experience this every time I let the ego deceive me – when I make those choices that value nothing, when I strut about thinking I am all that, or say unkind things in an attempt to project my shame to somebody else. When I apply this to the wedding situation I can see that attending the wedding would only have value to me to prove that I am “loved” by my special relationships, people who have never actually loved me through no fault of their own. I am attracted to the wedding because “all of them” would be there, and me being there would show that I am, despite the obvious, loved, have value, have not been barred from the fold. Because I was not invited, I could value the valueless by telling myself and whining to others: “I am not loved by my special relationships! All of them had a wonderful time that did not include me, and I am not back in the fold.”
There is a special benefit to my special relationships to keep me outside the window looking in, to punish me, to hold me accountable for their own unkindness and lies. I could easily choose to play the victim, become resentful, spiteful, get depressed. I could build allies, get people to side with poor little me against big, bad them. This could only serve the purpose of the ego and I would therefore be choosing to let the ego deceive me.
After that the criterion becomes even harder to believe, Jesus warns, because it is obvious the ego has overlaid this with many levels of obscurity. When I feel guilt by seeking pity from others, waste time telling myself what a pathetic, unlovable, unforgivable, and lamentable person I must be, I am distancing myself further from understanding the two choices. The more I dwell upon my feeling of being unloved, unworthy, unforgiven, and condemned, it feels too real and too hurtful to be the “nothing,” it is.
Complexity is a smokescreen, Jesus says, which hides the fact that no decision can be difficult. We reach Heaven with empty hands and open minds. We come with nothing to find everything. All the things that the world offers to take its place is “nothing,” and so we must lay self-deception aside and realize that the “nothing” the world offers is the only thing that could keep us from what is of true value. I go to heaven motherless and fatherless, without my special relationships, without my bank account, without a full belly, without my pretty wardrobe or car. I go to heaven without my body, or the avatars of my children, grandchildren, my husband, my brothers, and my sister. I go to Heaven with empty hands. I will not value the valueless for what is valuable belongs (already) to me. Tribal customs like weddings, funerals, birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, and special days designated to celebrate the most ridiculous things are part of the nothingness that would seem to have value here. We make a big deal of them, allowing ourselves to be deceived by the false sense of belonging and temporary chumminess we purchase – many times at great cost to our personal integrity, spiritual journeys, and physical well-being.
Last year during this lesson, I had come far enough on my spiritual journey to understand what Jesus means in verse 13: Heaven itself is reached with empty hands and open minds, which come with nothing to find everything and claim it as their own. And yet the experience of that emptiness had left me feeling tender, sensitive, and overly exposed. The Voice for God has been calling to me my whole life, and now that I was finally paying attention, listening, giving Holy Spirit His due, my neglected ego was doing its best to deceive me into valuing the valueless, into getting my feelings hurt, into valuing special relationships over holy ones.
The ego will do its best to entrap us in the valueless, to keep us distracted by the constant demands and false promises of tribes, clans, cliques, religions, and clubs. No matter how nice it all seems, how sweet are the people, how helpful and supportive and kind – Holy Spirit is calling to our hearts and our minds to only seek that which has value. It is not for the Sons of God to ooh and ahh over trinkets and badges, to engage in cliques and cult-like devotion to that which passes with time. There is no reason to play nice with such practices or feel obligated to give one’s time and money and effort to that which is not everlasting, that which can change, that which would turn upon you with vengeance and withhold forgiveness.
In our journey to God we must be vigilant not to cherish that which offers nothing: imaginary inner circles, false hierarchies, and meaningless rituals and chants that glorify splintered sisterhood and broken brotherhood cannot be part of our journey. That which has value is forever, Jesus says – it does not separate or divide, it has no fees, dues, tithes, or even obligations, it unites and brings together, it sets us free. No matter the appeal, all that we see and experience in time, is nothing. To let it hurt us is to not understand its purpose. To seek happiness here is to ask for sorrow.
We come to God with empty hands and open minds! We come with nothing to receive Everything. We have the answer today to anything that would tell us otherwise: I will not value what is valueless, for what is valuable belongs to me.
 A Course in Miracles. Workbook for Students. Lesson 133 I will not value what is valueless. Foundation for Inner Peace, Second Edition (1992). pp. 245-247.
Audio credit: http://www.eckiefriar.com