Cultivating authentic values

I’ve been sharing some of the rich content from the Pathwork Lectures over the last few months on the Wisdom of Sophia Facebook feed. I’m going to do a few posts on some of that material here also. But I want to share a word of caution about it, which I will repeat with each post.

It is extremely valuable and important to understand our internal depth dynamics intellectually – to make some kind of sense of the darkness. We need the intellect and reason to do all of this work properly. We need honest names and descriptions of the inner terrain. And having these concepts or currents laid out for verification and orientation is very important and helpful. Like one would have markers on a hiking path, I suppose. The Pathwork Lectures are incredibly valuable in this sense, they confirm and articulate conceptual matters in an otherwise dark and mushy place, where concepts are difficult to grasp or hold on to, and threads seem to dissolve as soon as you try to take hold of them. (Not to mention even that most of us are in a disintegrated state throughout much of our travels, and a disintegrated consciousness isn’t very good at conceptual organization). So having the material in the Lectures provide orientation and confirmation of the depths, something solid to hold on to that names the places we’re moving through, is crucial.

However, reading, absorbing, and internalizing this understanding isn’t enough. Our usual sense of education, the accumulation and regurgitation of information, doesn’t work here by itself. While some of this material may spark awareness or the desire for further contemplation, this material (to be effective in a tranformative mystical sense), must be found within and then wrestled with, worked on, digested, and transformed. Every person must do his/her own inner investigative work. These dynamics must be actually found substantively inside, again and again, discovered organically, verified internally, rather than overlaid as accepted truths. Without the independant contemplative self-search and personal discovery, knowing this material is of almost no value. If you don’t find it within, you can’t do anything about it. It adds nothing to consciousness to merely know it, or even worse to argue about it.

I trust that if you are here reading this, you will use this material properly, as it was intended…

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The excerpt below has to do with the shift from what I usually call egoic values, outward external-facing values, to inward or internal authentic values. Pathwork calls this “appearance values” versus “being values.” If you like Jung’s work, I think you’ll recognize the “appearance values” as most of what Jung called the Persona, the outward facing aspect of the personality. And the “being values” as the internal authentic self.

The process of making this shift inward is extremely difficult and involves significant work and the digestion of a lot of pain. The things that drive “appearance values” are deep wounds, not just faulty beliefs. Those wounds need to be healed, and the outward pulling desires extinguished, if the values are to actually be lived in integrity.

Here’s how Pathwork lays it out:

“Fundamentally, two value systems govern human beings. One system is that of being values and the other is that of appearance values…

Most human beings function on the level of appearance values. Only the most evolved, who have already gone through an extensive path of self-purification and transformation, function according to real values—for the sake of what is, and not for the sake of appearance in the eyes of others.

Here, too, as in so many other areas, it is not an either/or. There are degrees. A person can function in some areas of life with the true values and in other areas still be bound to the importance of appearance. Only gradually, in the course of this pathwork, will the former take over more and more where the latter had prevailed.

Before such an extensive path is undertaken, and for some time after it has begun, humanity functions in most areas with the appearance values. Now let us see the difference. Appearance values always aim to create an impression. Such false values may have crass manifestations, such as craving approval and selling out one’s truth to impress others or to be thought of in the highest terms. This tendency can be quite obvious and overt, but it can also be quite subtle and covert, not so easy to detect.

Inwardly, in many activities and directions you subtly focus on secret, semi-conscious expectations and concerns about “what will I be thought of.” The fear of negative reaction from others causes a tremendous amount of anxiety. Therefore the appearance value system is insidious and poisonous. It is much more harmful, my friends, than it may seem, for it truly disconnects you from your inner reality, from your higher self, from the truth of the situation and from the sincerity of your involvement and investment.

If you start observing yourself from this point of view, you will discover many areas that at first appear very subtly in your field of vision. Yet when you become more conscious of them, when you tune in to them, you find they are not so subtle. Actually the value system of appearance, as opposed to the value system of being, makes all the difference in the world.

Appearance values, no matter how strong and apparently loving or creative the effort and goal may be, always connote an insincerity. For what you do is done for effect: either directly through the activity or to attain power and money for the sole sake of proving your value. When you operate with being values you do what you do for the sake of the truth, for the sake of being. This may simply mean to do the best you can, regardless of others’ opinions, so that the activity fulfills its innate purpose. Or it may mean offering whatever you do up to God, contributing love, beauty, goodwill, comfort, something constructive to the world or to another person—again regardless of others’ opinions or even their noticing the effort and the effect. Whether you make an important humanitarian contribution, a work of art, a scientific project, or the smallest, most insignificant daily chore makes no difference. It is just as important to do every daily activity in the spirit of being, not appearance.

When you act for the sheer sake of what the act itself represents, rather than using your work and accomplishment to substitute for your sense of self-value, this always finally amounts to an act of love, to spiritual sincerity, to giving and enriching life. What you give to others, you give to yourself. Not giving to others deprives you even more than it deprives others. It makes you incapable of receiving what is available for you.

When you operate on the being level, some very drastic changes occur. These are byproducts of the integrity of your motive on the deepest level, though you may never make that connection. Let me give you an example: When you are attacked or judged or criticized or rejected, as long as you operate with the value system of appearance, you will feel totally devastated. How can it be different? If you attach your self-worth and your self-esteem to how you appear in the eyes of others, you must feel annihilated when anyone sees you in a bad light, however small the issue. You feel you lose your inner ground; you are no longer centered in yourself.

Of course, you are never really centered as long as you are governed by appearance values, but you are unaware of it when you are not being criticized. You seem centered when you receive praise and admiration because you feel gratified at the moment. You are unaware of the anxiety that eats you up, even in moments of success. As long as you receive your worth from others, you must constantly worry about your ability to maintain the uncentered state of receiving self-value from outside yourself. You have no real control over your sense of self-value.

Operating with being values, on the other hand, brings a deep inner security. This is not to say that you would not be hurt by hostile judgments, unfairness and the intent to put you down. But there is a world of difference between the kind of hurt that can never shake your foundation and the hurt that does shake your foundation.

If you operate with appearance values, your foundation is shaken and even seems to crumble when your appearance is negative. This does not happen when you operate in the deep security of being. Given your total integrity and knowledge of your real motives on the most hidden levels, the truth of your giving, the sincerity of your investment, the pursuit of your goal for its own sake without hidden thoughts and ulterior motives, your security in your own value will be so grounded in reality that no matter how you are judged and how it may hurt you, you experience the unshakable truth of your core.

Then your sense of self-value is not dependent on the opinion of others, on their knowing your assets and ignoring your liabilities. This creates a centeredness, a security, and an awareness of your eternal values that cannot be described in words.

When you operate with appearance values, you have no identity. You make your identity depend on the opinion of other people, on how you appear in their eyes. So when you are praised and honored, you derive a great momentary sense of gratification and confirmation of yourself—you might even feel a temporary exhilaration—but that is built on a shaky ground. When that admiration and approval is withheld, or perhaps even reversed, the ground shakes and you become lost; you cease to feel your identity. The false sense of your identity has been crushed and the real sense of it has not yet been established.

As long as appearance values hold sway underneath the surface, you constantly eat away at your self-esteem. Deep inside, you know you are not in truth when you put so much emphasis on the level of appearance. You cannot connect with your higher self. Since you know that you only appear to give, doing it for ulterior motives, for something you want to gain in a prideful way, you doubt yourself on a very deep level. So when others doubt you, distrust you, criticize you in any way, on the surface you may be very indignant, defensive and argumentative, but inwardly cannot find your center since you doubt your integrity about the way you operate generally, even if you do not lack integrity concerning the specific issue.

Your ability to perceive truth in others is a profound and important aspect of the value system you adopt. When you function in your giving mode in a deeply committed sincere spirit, then whatever you do is a wholehearted investment of your best faculties. But when this spirit is not there and appearance values reign, you can never really answer questions such as these: Am I right or wrong? Are others right or wrong? To what extent am I right or wrong, or are the others right or wrong? In what particular area am I right and in what area are the others right? In what particular area am I wrong and in what way are the others wrong?

All these questions plague you—although you may succeed in denying your awareness of them—as you unfortunately succeed in stifling awareness of how appearance values undermine your integrity. The denials are the very cause of confusion. They create a fog over such issues and questions when you would need clarity to know who you are. So you flounder, you grope, but not in a healthy way. You are truly confused and the struggle is painful because it is a struggle that covers up the inner lack of a security that can come only from the deep sincerity of commitment and giving. The lack of giving and commitment eats away at your psychic guts, if I may say so. It makes you doubtful of everything you do, of everything you think.”

This is a small excerpt from a much larger lecture and conversation on this subject. It begins to touch the subject of inner moral vision (“right vision”), the solid discernment of situational morality, which is what develops as we do this more and more. One can write entire treatises on the differences internally, and how it feels to live them, but again, I’m sharing this bit only for the sake of inner orientation and not with the intent to cover the subject intellectually.

As a last note, I’ve been thinking of how best to articulate egoic appearance values, how best to name them exactly, so that they might be seen clearly and discerned (and found within each of us, of course). There is an overwhelming manifestation of these egoic or appearance values in the behaviors of those who are severely narcissistic. On account of their huge egos, narcissists are a kind of walking embodiment of these appearance values, and so I started thinking about where one might find a narcissist’s playbook, so to speak.

Then I came across this video, which is an animation of Robert Greene’s book The 48 Laws of Power. These are the often unspoken motivations, aspirations, or ideals that underlie the egotistical behaviors, beliefs, and justifications we see in many of our narcissistic anti-social pals. I was nauseated by the content, but also excited that they have already been articulated all together in one place, which makes all of this much easier to illuminate. (The smug and glib tone of the narrator, as he arrogantly preaches ignorance, contempt, and nihilist manipulation makes me sick). But notice that these are considered “realistic;” he defends them as necessary protections against being hurt or abused by a harsh and cruel world, while the characters emulated are all schemers, manipulators, and charlatans. (They always see themselves as victims, justified in whatever harm they cause others…).

But their value system isn’t about being realistic, and defintely not about being vulnerably authentic; quite the opposite. This position of manipulative defendedness, of armoring, of power games in a cruel, zero sum, dog eat dog world, is foundationally contrary to everything we are doing here. It’s a morally corrupt view of the world, rooted in tremendous unconscious pain, which is very harmful to the soul. I understand how they come about, and why someone would adopt them, but they represent the height of egotism and lack of conscious awareness.

These values aren’t just antithetical to mystical truth and wisdom (which are often stark and difficult to stomach for entirely different reasons), but they are the polar opposite to the inner currents of the unarmored authentic self. They promote domination, manipulation, deception, and justify all kinds of destructiveness, which of course the soul is completely against.

All in all, the list of these “laws of power” is a great reference for egoic appearance values which ought to be let go of and transformed.