A really powerful question to ask ourselves is, “What do I value most in my life?” You might get an answer right away, or your mind might go completely blank. You might hear a superficial answer like your house, your truck, or chicken wings. If that occurs, ask your mind, “What does my house, truck, or chicken wings represent to me?” You might have to drill through a few layers of people and things. But, your final answer will ultimately be a quality that is void of emotional agitation, such as peace, unconditional love, or freedom.

Knowing what you truly value can help you determine which beliefs to keep and which ones to let go. It can help you decide if a relationship will have lasting value. It can point you in the direction of a career that will bring fulfillment and reward. It can help you find meaning in your life.

Losing My Values (My Mental Virginity)

When I married at twenty years old, I naively saw marriage as freedom. I was escaping from the prison of my youth, moving to a new city, and starting a fresh life. On the surface, it felt like I won the freedom lottery.

I didn’t notice that I was marrying someone who had very different values. His most cherished value was being liked, following the rules, and fitting in. I liked those things too; but I valued freedom much more. I was willing to forgo applause and at-a-girls for freedom. He wasn’t.

I went along with his line of thinking because it was reasonable and popular. I changed careers, starting dressing differently, and started caring what others thought. I even made peace with the notion of hard work as virtuous.

I developed a strong attraction to self-improvement books during this time in my life. Clearly some part of me knew that I was heading off my course. But my husband was pleased because I mirrored his values. So I assumed that I must be doing something right.

The Mental Virgin

Religion teaches us to protect our physical virginity. “If you lose it, you can’t get it back,” I was told. That sounded serious to me; but to the ancient master, physical virginity was worthless. The gold was in mental virginity; and they maintained it at all cost.

Mental virginity was the ability to keep returning to a pure mind -- to keep one’s mind free of judgments, beliefs, and prejudices. The ancient masters knew that when one hides their true Self, they create problems, opponents, and diseases in order to force their false mind to let go.

These masters were right. One day, my free spirit came out of hiding; and I did something that my husband considered wrong. Then I did a few more things that caused people to judge me. Now I looked more like his opponent than his wife.

Because I’d accepted his values as the key to my life, I hated myself for breaking his rules. I couldn’t understand what came over me that caused these demons to speak and act out.

Before I accepted his values, I did the same things and no one cared. People just viewed me as a free spirit that did crazy things and spoke her mind. I suspect that was what my husband found attractive. But once I accepted his values and beliefs, my world judged me under his more rigid point of view.
That is how life works. What we hold in mind projects the world that we experience. We create our own judges. And those judges become our prison bars.

After a long fall and a hard smack at rock bottom, I realized that my heart didn’t give a damn about fitting in. I knew that I never did anything to purposefully hurt another. I was different, but not bad. Slowly the prison bars weakened.

Try as You Might, The Heart Can’t be Imprisoned

Many years later, after much introspection, I came to realize that what caused me to break my husband’s rules was not an inner demon; it was my heart’s desire for freedom. You see, I could cover up my desire with his values and even do a pretty good job of forgetting that I valued freedom. But the cover was fragile, and my heart eventually broke through.

Our true Self holds the qualities that we value and desire. Freedom, peace, joy, unconditional love, harmony, and perfection are some of the many true-Self qualities. Our heart only knows of paradise. While one of these qualities might have a bigger draw, anyone who values one of them will value all of them. These true Self qualities don’t come with the nervous agitation of emotion. They feel good like the softness of watching a sunset or the quietness of meditation.

The false self (or ego) is a card-carrying member of the dualistic illusory world of good and evil, where stress, emotion, and problems are normal. It doesn’t realize that you can’t have good without bad or right without wrong. The ancient people actually called holding the perspective of good and evil being stuck on the cross.

Good and bad or evil are two sides of the same coin. We can’t have one without the other. The good person in duality contains the seed of evil; and the evil person contains the seed of good. The two halves meet up attempting to find wholeness. But these two halves don’t make a whole. They make a mess. They are stuck together like powerful magnets. True wholeness lives beyond duality.

Memories of Wholeness

I was lucky. I had childhood memories of thoughts without opposites, so I knew something was not right when I found myself caught in the good and evil mindset. However, once the seed of good and evil had been planted, I didn’t know how to dig out the root so the plant would not grow back.

The idea of faith in the ancient world came from this very predicament. Faith was not about some angel or god fixing your problem. Faith was about sacrificing the beliefs that caused the problem and trusting that using your will to let go would make everything right.

The ancient initiate knew that paradise was a perspective, not a place. And the first step to finding paradise was the clarification of values. Once the value set the destination, the initiates cleared their minds of everything that stood in their way until they were standing at heaven’s gate.

Once I realized that looking good was not my most important value, I was able to make new choices. I could no longer play the good and evil game. I no longer blindly believed people who told me their view of right and wrong. I no longer took jobs working for the man. I no longer wanted to be with someone who judged my heart’s desires. And, I no longer wanted to upset my partner with something that I could not contain. Even my friends changed. I was no longer willing to sit in long, whining sessions. I wanted to talk about creativity and new ideas. I wanted to let go, not hold on.
It took me a long time to get to this understanding and honor my heart. I tried for many years to just be good and not make waves. But eventually, I did make waves. Fortunately, I found the wisdom of the ancient masters. I learned to discriminate and let go; I learned that I could reclaim my freedom.

The Journey Continues…

As I continue to challenge each belief that opposes freedom, I find insights and clarity that keep me going. I now remember the fresh, clear mind that I had as a child. It wasn’t lost or sold to the devil; it was covered up like the golden Buddha. And it was my job to uncover my inner Buddha one chip of plaster at a time.

People labeled as problems, bad, or wrong are often just people who have a harder problem containing their heart. They don’t make good prisoners, but they make damn good creators when you give them their freedom.

I suspect that one day everyone will find the heart’s perspective more appealing than the mind’s illusory reality. But life is not a race. There is no rush back to paradise because the true Self knows that we’re eternal. We’ve got all the time in the world because time, like good and evil, is just an illusion.

Author's Bio: 

Cathy Eck has a Ph.D. in esoteric studies and has studied the ancient initiatory teachings and practices for twenty years uncovering the secrets of mental and emotional freedom. If you would like more information on her work or her mentoring, visit http://gatewaytogold.com.