Selfishness. This word just means that one is about the self. That one prioritizes things related the self. We have all these moral and social stories built up around it, but at its core, it is just that – self-ish.
A lot of my trouble just fell away when I began exploring the idea of a self, trying to discover where it was centered and what it wanted, because I could not find it. It was terrifying and liberating at the same time.
I guess those things often go together now that I think about it.
Suffering and the Self
What struck me was how much of my suffering was caused by me trying to protect this self that I suddenly couldn’t even find. I’d spent my life lying and deluding and self-medicating this oppressive ghost, and I suddenly recognized that it was never there.
It shifted my first instincts on a situation to explore how I might help other people or what might be best for everyone involved instead of trying to orchestrate everything to go my way. It shifted my thoughts to see situations as inherently neutral and allowed a friendly curiosity to grow.
It made everything so much easier.
The Tyranny of the Self
Let’s be clear though – I am not free of the self by any stretch of the imagination, When I get tired or sick or stop taking care of myself, it rises like a tyrant and starts to run the show. I start thinking about myself first, and everyone around me starts to seem like unhelpful, selfish jerks. This continues until I realize I’m just looking in the mirror and need to get myself together.
What does the idea of a stable self drive you to do?
What is the first thing you think of when situations change?
What would you change if you thought of others first?
What is keeping you from doing just that?