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What is the best way to determine one's core values?


heart to heart The questioner's philosophy
I am a Buddhist primarily but I am open to non-denominational messages as well.
The questioner's hopes and aspirations
Be happy and financially independent.
Question
What is the best way to determine one's core values?
Wallace's reply
Wallace
This is an excellent question and I am very happy to answer it. The best way to determine one's core values is to find a person whom one admires above all others because for you their life is exemplary, and adopt the values they espouse.

Finding such a person is a bit like looking for your romantic soul mate, except in this instance you are searching for a spiritual soul mate. It doesn't matter whether the person you are searching for is alive physically or alive in spirit - what matters is that how they lived their life speaks to you in some profound way that defies description. The bond between you is one of love and devotion - spiritual love and spiritual devotion. Furthermore, like a romantic soul mate, this bond is heart to heart. When such a bond happens a "marriage" takes place. From then on the way your spiritual teacher leads, or has lead their life, becomes your inspiration. After that all your spiritual needs can be met through your devotion to this person and their teachings.

I have such a person in my own life - a spiritual teacher and Avatar called Sai Baba. He lives in India and is 81 years old. To this day I am unsure whether he chose me or I chose Him, but whenever I think of my relationship with Him I am close to tears. In the case of my own spiritual teacher he has a worldwide educational program called Education in Human Values. He disseminates these values through a host of educational projects and through His own schools and universities. Learning the correct human values, He says, is the most important aspect of education. In His schools and universities He organizes the teaching of the common subjects students expect in a modern curriculum, but the thread of human values and spiritual understanding runs through them all. In His educational institutions the various subjects are like branches but the root is human values.

He is of course not the only great spiritual teacher to promulgate human values. For example in your own tradition the Budda promulgated the Four Noble Truths and the Eight Fold Path as a way of developing the highest human values. The Eight Fold Path gives clear guidance on:

  1. Right view
  2. Right intention
  3. Right speech
  4. Right action
  5. Right livelihood
  6. Right effort
  7. Right mindfulness
  8. Right concentration
The interesting thing about all these great spiritual teachers is that their core values are virtually identical - although they may have different emphases and use a different kind of language to describe them. As teachings they represent different paths to the top of the one mountain or as my teacher, Sai Baba says:
"There is only one cast, the Caste of Humanity.
There is only one language, the Language of the Heart.
There is only one religion, the Religion of Love.
There is only one God. He is Omnipresent."

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