I will not value what is valueless.
Today’s lesson takes the abstract intensity of “there is no world” and seeks to make it practical. It wants to give us a means by which to approach the truth of their is no world here in the world. In a sense, this is a hand-holding lesson, a baby steps lesson. But their impact remains far-reaching.
Understanding and practicing today’s lesson rests on a thorough understanding of ego’s motives and agend and, critically, its dishonesty.
Ego is that aspect of thinking which emphasizes that we are bodies. It uses the association of self and body as the measure of value. It wants us to be “drawn to bodily concerns, to things you buy, to eminence as valued by the world” even though these things bring us only sorrow (W-pI.133.2:2).
The sorrow is the point; the sense of loss is the point. When we are sad and lonely, when we feel unfulfilled, when we are fearful and desperate, we are mostly likely to turn to ego and ask it for help. Ego lives on this attention: it has to keep us unsatisfied because only then will we turn to it.
The way ego does this is keeping us focused on the body in the world.
A Course in Miracles – through its Teacher, the Holy Spirit – offers us an alternative. There are no satisfactions in the world. Period. There is literally nothing there.
Therefore, attention given to it is attention given to illusion which can only lead to confusion and suffering. To what shall we give attention instead?
Lesson 133 offers some practical considerations in answer to that question.
First, if the thing to which we are giving attention, and holding as a solution to a problem – if it has any value for a body in the world – will not last forever, then it has no value (W-pI.133.6:1). If it is subject in any way to time, then it has no value.
What fades and ies was never there, and makes no offering to him who chooses it. He is deceived by nothing in a form he thinks he likes (W-pI.133.6:4-5).
Second, if the thing we believe is valuable – if it can be taken from someone else – then we are denying our brother or sister’s right to have everything. We are acting as if limits are real, and we are not exempt from the power of our own thought. Therefore, if we deny anyone anything, we are denying our own self everything.
Both of these examples make clear that if what we value is subject to the laws of time and space, as they appear to us in these bodies, then they are not real and do not actually have value.
Why then do we value them? Because we are decieved by ego, which cannot tell us the truth about it wants, and thus locks us into a deranged fantasy of life-long suffering that ends in death (W-pI.133.8:7). But understand: we only fall for its lies because we want to fall for them. We want to be deceived.
However, a point comes in our lives when we no longer accept ego’s distortions. We cannot sustain the ego’s illusions any longer because our sorrow is too great and the idea that there is another way too pervasive. At that point, we can ask the fundamental question, the answer to which begins to align our will with God’s: do I feel guilty about this choice?
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 (W-pI.133.11:2-3).
Remember: the ego’s goals are those that keep you focused on the body in the world. They cannot work. If we believe they can, then we are making the ego’s world real: we are living out the separation from God, for which we can only feel guilty.
“Guilt” here may well be experienced as guilt but it can also be experienced as shame, greed, righteous indignation, judgment of others for not working as hard as we do, self-satisfaction with diet, exercise, spiritual practice, intellectual justifications et cetera.
Guilt is always an argument with God, because it is always the absence of natural sustainable happiness. So another way to evaluate your choice is: does this make you happy in a way that cannot be affected if the choice is undone? Does this choice set up any conflict with a brother or sister? Can anybody lose?
A Course in Miracles argues that choice is easy because we are either choosing love or fear – everybody wins or nobody wins. How hard is the choice when those are the options? Choice in the world is an illusion. Choice at the level of Spirit is easy.
The challenge arises when we don’t see those two choices – we see a veritable smorgasbord of bodies and objects and ideas between which we can choose. Complexity is of the ego, not the Holy Spirit.
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 leting you make choices easily and without pain (W-pI.133.12: 3-5).
In fact, learning that there is only one choice is what allows us to let go of the world and the body, and all the senseless choices that seem to go along with them. We give up everything and what remains? Perfect peace and happiness are what remains. “Heaven itself is reached with open hands and open minds, which come with nothing to find everything and claim it as their own” (W-pI.133.13:1).
Thus, this lesson advices us to give careful attention to what we are choosing and why we find it valuable. Are we following the ego’s lead or the Holy Spirit’s? Who is teaching what to value and why?