Purpose: To empty our hands of all the things we value in this world and to reach the state of Heaven.
Longer: Two times, for fifteen minutes.
Repeat, "I will not value what is valueless, and only what has value do I seek, for only that do I desire to find." Then try to find the valuable within yourself. Hold in mind an honest willingness to not deceive yourself about what is valuable. Refuse to fool yourself into thinking that the things of this world can bring you real, lasting happiness. Try instead to value only the eternal, in your brothers and in yourself. Empty your hands of the treasures of this world. Open your mind and let go of its usual attachments. In this empty, open state, come before the gate of Heaven within you, and it will swing open, offering you the gift of everything.
Response to temptation: Whenever you feel burdened or feel confronted with a difficult decision.
Immediately respond by repeating, "I will not value what is valueless, for what is valuable belongs to me." This will remind you that no decision can be difficult, because you choose between the infinitely valuable and the totally worthless.
The laws that govern choice are two:
- There are only two alternatives: everything or nothing.
- There is no compromise; there is no in-between.
The criteria for judging what is worth desiring are:
- Will it last forever? (If not, it is nothing.)
- Is it a choice in which no one loses? (If not, you are left with nothing.)
- Is the purpose free of the ego's goals? (If not, there is compromise.)
- Is the choice free of all guilt? (If not, the real alternatives have been obscured.)
These are stringent rules! They are clear, but not easily learned. How can we know whether or not the ego's goals are intruding, for instance? "Here it is easiest of all to be deceived" (8:5). The ego masquerades in innocence. Yet the lesson asserts that the ego's camouflage is only "a thin veneer, which could deceive but those who are content to be deceived" (9:1). "Its goals are obvious to anyone who cares to look for them" (9:2). We need only to be willing to look, and the ego detector is quite simple: guilt. "If you feel any guilt about your choice, you have allowed the ego's goals to come between the real alternatives" (11:2).
If I apply these criteria for choice to the decisions in my life, my life will be constantly revolutionized. The first criterion alone rules out absolutely every goal involving anything material, including bodies and ordinary human relationships. Will it last forever? What lasts forever in this world? Only love. And not all that we call love lasts forever; we've all demonstrated that for ourselves, in all likelihood, or seen it all around us. The assertion of the Course, by the way, is that if it doesn't last, it wasn't love to begin with:
Where disillusionment is possible, there was not love but hate. For hate is an illusion, and what can change was never love. (T-16.IV.4:3-4)
But there is a love not of this world; a light we cannot find in the world but which we can give to the world (see T-13.VI.11:1-2).
As Stephen Levine has written, we cannot own love, but we can be owned by it. And that is what is being said here.
We may think that most of our choices are not so monumental as all this. But they are all this very choice. In every moment we are choosing to give ourselves to love, to be taken over by it and used by it, or we are choosing to withhold ourselves from it, in fear. To choose love is the only guiltless choice.
It isn't complex. "Complexity is nothing but a screen of smoke, which hides the very simple fact that no decision can be difficult" (12:3). It is the decision: "Let me be love in this situation and nothing else." No, we don't know how to do that. That is why we must come "with empty hands and open minds" (13:1). Holding on to nothing, unencumbered (14:1) by any lesser values. And with no preconceptions about what being love means—open minds. In the words of a poem by the Christian poetess Amy Carmichael:
Love through me, Love of God.
Make me like Thy clear air,
Through which, unhindered, colors pass
As though it were not there.