A Meditation on Value

by Christopher Lovejoy on May 29, 2011

This past week, I had the pleasure of watching (on video) the most extraordinary balancing act I’ve ever seen in my entire life.

But it wasn’t just the balancing act that held me captive.

The performance itself provided a compelling aesthetic experience, which included a captivating ambiance, vivid streams of color, ethereal music, and a rock-solid performer.

The fundamental principles embodied by this act – unity and harmony – informed and inspired the values portrayed: sacred intent, extreme focus, patient execution, and exquisite balance.

I’ll be making reference to this near-flawless performance throughout the body of this post, so do yourself a favor and surrender yourself to the experience (it won’t last more than 9 minutes).

What is my value? What are my values?

My value, and my values, are central to living a good (or great) life, and my personal satisfaction and fulfillment depend on them to live and to live well – to feel good (or great).

Quite simply, my desires indicate what I value. The more intense the desire, the more strongly I hold the value. Also, my desires, by definition, are conscious, whereas my urges and impulses are not.

I can be a witness to my urges and impulses, but I cannot hold them in mind or heart like I can with desires – at least, not until I make them conscious with mindful, heartfelt reflection.

I can also ask two essential questions about values: what is value? and what is a value?

If value is the relative worth, utility, or importance of something (or someone), then a value is something I can act to gain and/or keep. If the heart of my soul is naturally disposed to discerning relative and absolute value, then my soul and spirit aim to keep and gain values, respectively.

I did a brief exploration of my values in The Art of Surrender and I explored the nature and meaning of soul and spirit in my posts, One Soul, One Spirit and Being and Becoming.

I’d now like to meditate on the nature, meaning, and purpose of value.

Intrinsic and Instrumental Value

The difference between intrinsic and instrumental value is a distinction worth noting and exploring, as it ties in with intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, respectively.

In my service to others, I have instrumental value, serving as an author of change towards a variety of desired outcomes. For example, I offer perspectives on personal fulfillment for the benefit of those who understand and appreciate the value of learning, growing, and evolving into personal fulfillment.

I also have intrinsic value. Simply by virtue of living, learning, exploring, creating, and evolving as a spiritual being in human form, I can be wholly present to my experience, to be at peace, to be in love with who and what I am in response to my inherent, intrinsic, inalienable worth as a human being.

As an instrument, I can choose to motivate myself with extrinsic values – money, status, recognition, instrumental objects of value, instrumental relationships of value – but as a free agent, I can choose to inspire myself with intrinsic values, including the basic values of presence, peace, promise, and love.

In the performance of a lifetime, the peak performer blends his intrinsic and instrumental value. He brings forward all of his long hours of training, practice, and dedication as an instrument of value to serve his audience, and does so only because he valued (and values) himself intrinsically.

For the Love of Self: Who and What I Am

Who am I? Essentially, I am a soul, with a heart. What am I? Essentially, I am a spirit, with a mind.

And I love them both. That is, I love them both when I embrace my intrinsic value – the intrinsic value of who I am, and when I affirm my instrumental value – the instrumental value of what I am.

My body holds my soul like the vessel that it is. My soul, with my heart as its witness, knows itself through its encounters with others and the world at large, viz., through its casual, formal, intimate, and sacred encounters with quality, dignity, intimacy, and sanctity, respectively.

My body carries my spirit like the vehicle that it is. My spirit, with my mind as its witness, knows itself through its experiences with others and the world at large, viz., through its perceptual, investigative, vicarious, and actual experiences with familiarity, validity, desirability, and vitality, respectively.

My soul intends quality, dignity, intimacy, and sanctity through its encounters with unity, while my spirit expects familiarity, validity, desirability, and vitality through its experiences with harmony.

Implications for Personal Fulfillment

The performance mentioned above embodies my essential values – beauty, harmony, serenity, intimacy, and ecstasy – like no other performance I have ever seen and heard.

From the beginning, my soul is drawn magnetically by the promise of a magical and beautiful scene that features a mysterious setting with a pleasing ambiance and an attractive performer.

Beauty is satisfied.

As a whole, my soul encounters everything it could hope for: quality in the setting, dignity in the performer, intimacy in the camera work, and sanctity in the performance itself.

The performer is near-flawless in his expression of harmony. My spirit identifies strongly with the experience of a performer who binds harmony to unity is such a visceral way.

Harmony is fulfilled.

As a whole, my spirit experiences the captivating tension of not knowing: What is this? Can he make this work? And as the tension resolves, my spirit finds it to be desirable and vital.

As a witness, I am present to the performance from a place of peace. As a heartfelt witness, I absorb the beauty into my soul, and as a mindful witness, I carry the harmony with my spirit.

Serenity is realized.

As a whole, and as a witness, I strive to realize a fine balance between soul and spirit, heart and mind, encounter and experience, knowing and not knowing, beauty and harmony.

With beauty satisfied, harmony fulfilled, and serenity realized, the intimate moments that I encounter and the ecstatic finale that I experience complete the overall picture of my fulfillment.

My body, mind, heart, soul, and spirit are fully realized, both in art and in life.

My life has meaning. I know what it means to be alive. I am happy, and I know what makes me happy. I can love, and I know the meaning of love. I know the truth of who and what I am.

And I contain and carry all of this into my everyday waking, dreaming reality.

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