By Frank Conerton
In a recent class with Michael Strelcheck about “Winning at Life”, we were talking about values and what we believe our personal values to be. Michael was talking about different values such as kindness or compassion, values recognized as describing a spiritual life. Of course being me, I went in a slightly different direction.
Usually, discussions like this are about socially recognized values. We hear that being kind and compassionate are good things so we think, “I want to be kind and compassionate”. This is really about our ego-story, the story we tell ourselves about who we think we are. But, Science of Mind tells us that if we want to know our real values, just look at what we do. Our actions are the result of our operational values, the actual values we use to make choices in the course of our life.
I have been working with these ideas for a while and noticed that in my own life I really didn’t seem to have a solid center. In some situations one principle took precedent, in other situations other values were important. I started looking at my value system and asked what was missing. As often happens when questions get asked, they get answered. The statement came into my mind that my most important, foundational value is my human life!
My immediate thought was no! After all, there is the bible quote about “what profit a man to gain the entire world, if he loses his soul”. My most important value is my soul. And then there is that saying about the greatest gift is to lay down your life for another. Helping others is the greatest value. Mother Teresa was considered a living saint because of her selfless devotion to others.
No wonder it seemed that my personal life had no center. Was my soul most important? Was how I treated others most important? Was my human life most important? Of course, more questions got more answers.
Mother Teresa had to first have her life before she could help others. The person who lays down his life for another had to first have a life. In religious terms, in discussion of soul over life, my human life is a gift from God. To say the soul is more important than my life, God’s gift, is to reject this gift, to throw it back in God’s face and say, “no, I know better.”
Ok, so my human life is my most important value, from birth to death, while I live as a human, my human life is the foundation. This is a statement of identity; A=A=A. I am a living human being. To accept this is to say my life is my center, my greatest value.
Like many questions that get answered, it sometimes feels like those Magic 8 balls in operation. You shake it up and an answer floats up in the window. The answer block inside the 8-ball has rolled over and shown a new side with a different answer. Sometimes it feels as if my inside view of the world has rolled over and there is a whole new panorama revealed. I now have a solid center. From birth to death, my human life is my greatest value. It’s a new world.