This is called the practice of Muhasibi. So we [ask] ourselves, “Why am I doing what I’m doing?” Behind that question there’s a deeper one and that is, “What are those things that I value in life?” And there’s a—you could even make a priority list of some things that you prioritize above others. And then there’s the acid test: are these just idyllic lip service to a cause or are they really values that are real for you? Not wishful thinking, real values that you pursue. And so the acid test is in how far do your actions match these values. Are you pursuing these values? Are you not pursuing these values? Why are you not pursuing them? Ask these questions to yourself.
Of course, you know that the mind can always provide a justification. So be wary of the functioning of the mind: circumstances make it difficult, engagements, and so on. It’s all very true. Whether one can pursue these values in the midst of limiting circumstances, that’s the great challenge. But whether one is really pursuing them or whether they are just ideals that one holds very high but which are not lived, are just wishful thinking—that is, there is some kind of split in our personality in that, some kind of incongruity.
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Of course it's an enormous subject so you could start by approaching it by, a little more, something more, a little more tangible. Like, for example, “What do I like?” Like in your choice of music, for example. It gives you some sense of values. “This is what I like, this is what I don’t like. What I like in people and what I like in myself. What I don’t like in myself and what I don’t like in people.”
So rather than—you see, I’m very wary of the kind of abstract archetypal thinking that one ascribes to the wazifa. It’s in the realm of the mind. It’s not, it’s a kind of projection,— abstraction.
So, for example, when I say I like that person because that person has a lot of love, then let us just feel that instead of filing it under the category of love. And there’s something in me that I don’t like because I find that I lacked love in my way of handling a situation. So now it’s real, it’s not just an idea—you know, love as a pin-up of love—but it’s something real.
And truth! I value truth. So that’s a Platonic kind of ideal: “I value truth.” But then, in your life, that’s where it’s being tested. So think of situations in your life and then there may be conflicts, like, for example, compassion and truth. By being truthful you may hurt a person, to spare a person but then you’re not truthful. So there might be a conflict.
There’s no way of sorting this out logically. But what we want to do is be very, very aware of what our motivations are. And they could be general or it could be in particular. For example, in particular, “What are my motivations in my relationship with this person? Or that person? Or another person? Am I manipulating that person for my advantage? Am I binding that person to me? Am I freeing that person from dependence upon me? Am I giving to that person? Or is there an exchange: I’m giving and that person’s giving, so there’s interdependence.“ Can you see the difference between co-dependence and independence and interdependence. Independence. Co-dependence, interdependence, independence.
How can I make my values actual? How can I actuate my values so that they are real in life situations?