The True Meaning of Worth
In this chapter we are going to explore how a yogi comes to value his or her self. The worth of one’s self can be seen in the actions and endeavors that a yogi takes out into the world. To determine one’s worth, it is important to come to a clear understanding about your values. How do you present yourself to others? How do you feel about certain aspects of life? Are you courageous? Do you state your truth to others? Are you honest? These are some of the ways you can begin to determine your worth. Worth in this context relates to the values you uphold and maintain on a daily basis.
The following story illustrates this:
There lived in France in the sixties a woman who was very popular. Her name was Elise, and she lived in the heart of Paris in an old, comfortable apartment that was built in the nineteenth century, with marvelous decorative motifs and high ceilings in every room. Her friends were all intellectuals and prominent in their fields of work. She, on the other hand, was only an executive secretary for an export company. Even though she had little academic training, Elise was looked upon by her friends as an extremely cultured, bright woman. On Sunday evenings there would always be a group of people gathered at her apartment, with the conversation covering diverse subjects from politics to music and art.
Elise, in her late forties, had never married. One of her close friends, Eugene, kept begging her to marry him, but she preferred her freedom; and even though she was having an affair with him at the time, she didn’t want to marry.It is difficult to describe her. She was neither pretty nor plain, but in some instances, she was radiant and looked quite beautiful, especially when her guests would talk about her favorite subject, art. A natural artist herself, she collected the works of some of the famous artists of the time long before they had achieved fame. Talking about these artists made her blue eyes look fiery and her long, sandy hair seem to shine more brilliantly. Always she wore a dress, even when pants were in fashion, and this made her stand out from the other women at the Sunday gatherings.One evening at one of these gatherings, a stranger came.Paul was a friend of a friend and had heard about her Sunday evening soirées. He was very handsome, middle aged, with graying hair and a dark brown mustache, dressed in a tailored gray suit and wearing a cravat instead of a necktie. When Paul was introduced to Elise, they looked into each other’s eyes and connected on a very deep level. For her, it was instant love; for him, it was instant hate. She felt the hate immediately and wanted to cry, but composed herself quickly and went to speak to someone else.Later in the evening she found herself standing next toPaul. For the first time she was at a loss for words. Paul also felt very uncomfortable, but opened the conversation with the following: “I have been looking at your painting collection. It is quite extraordinary! These are from some of the best artists alive today.”
Lighting up at the subject, she replied, “Yes, I am quite fortunate to have developed an eye for good art, and I started collecting many years ago, when I was quite young and had little money. I met some of the artists and bought their work for very little, long before they were recognized. Now, of course, they are beyond my means.”“Have you ever thought of selling some of them?”“Oh, yes, in my old age when I retire and need money. But for now, it would be very difficult to part with any of them.”The conversation continued along these lines and soon they were falling into a relationship that would prove ill-fated for both of them.Theirs was old karma. In a past life they were married and she had cheated on him, and he in turn had killed her lover in a duel. He had died holding a deep resentment toward her and she had died feeling guilt toward him.In the ensuing weeks they saw each other regularly and became enmeshed in each other’s lives. Unbeknown to her,Paul was deeply in debt even though he had a good job as a vice president of a well-known corporation. He was a gambler and had lost most of his money at the tables, which is why his wife had left him. At this time he was still trying to pay off some of his bills. Otherwise, he would have to declare bankruptcy, something he did not want to do.Finally he told Elise of his plight, lying by saying that his finances were bad because his wife had taken everything and left him with enormous debts. The next day Elise presented him with a gift, and when he opened it, there was a small Paul Klee painting. She told him that it was worth at least several hundred thousand dollars and now he could get out of debt.
He sold it right away. But instead of paying off his debts, he went to Monte Carlo hoping to double the money. Instead, he lost it all.Now a little more desperate, Paul told Elise that the paint-ing only sold for $50,000, which wasn’t enough to pay off his bills. Of course she knew he was lying. She had had all her paintings evaluated and insured, and the dealer she’d sent him to was someone she knew.When she found out that it really sold for $200,000, she realized that he was stealing from her. This was difficult for her to take, as she was deeply in love with him. She made some inquiries and discovered the truth, that he was a gambler and this was why he was in such debt. Elise told him what she knew, but instead of ending the relationship, she offered to help him.She even said she would sell another painting to pay off his debts, but only under the condition that he undergo treatment for his addiction. Paul agreed, and Elise followed through by selling another painting. But this time she paid his bills herself and also personally paid for the therapy, so that he would not be tempted to gamble away the money.Elise is a good example of someone who valued beauty and friendship. She could have easily rid herself of this man who was a scoundrel, but she loved him and saw something in him that was good. They were friends, never lovers, because he had an unconscious fear of ever getting romantically involved with her.Her real worth was in her integrity to do what she felt was right for a friend, even if it meant losing a great deal of money.Some may say she was foolish, but in actuality she paid back her karma of having cheated on him in the former life, and in so doing, helped him to become whole again. Paul did conquer his addiction, and was always grateful to her for her love and kindness. This story is one example of what we mean by “worth.”Worth can also cover a sense of who you are in terms of the value you have to others. If, for example, I am feeling a need to build boundaries in a given relationship, then I am protect-ing myself. In that sense, I am protecting my worth so that others do not infringe on it. If the boundaries are too strong, then your worth is set too high and you are asking for more than you are worth. An example would be a person who feels deserving of a certain kind of treatment, treatment that this person would not give to others.Usually people undervalue their worth and need to adjust it accordingly. Yogis especially have this tendency, whereas, in actuality they should desire more, as their worth usually is greater, or more spiritually evolved, than most people’s.Let’s look at some of the qualities that can be classified under worth.
1. The ability to listen to others with the heart.
2. The need to be of service and help those who need help.
3. Understanding another person’s qualities and accepting their faults.
4. Intuitively knowing the right action.
5. Using your abilities to promote a peaceful atmosphere.
6. Having the desire to improve oneself and grow.
7. Being honest and truthful to others.
8. Being able to confront a situation head on.
9. Having integrity at all times.
10.Looking at anything that is difficult and not hesitating to take the right action.
11. Seeing life as a possibility to learn and change.
12. Wanting to be successful in your given work.
13. Looking at those around you and knowing how to deal with them correctly, whether they are close friends or people you dislike.