So I’ve been looking at the idea of selfishness versus selflessness.
How much do we focus on ourselves, on our slice of the universe, versus looking at the big picture, and working as being part of this connected universe versus working as an individual? And it’s so easy to go full individual, because there’s a lot of competition, there’s a lot of violence and hurting of parts of the universe hurting other parts of the universe, and there’s a lot of dangers to each of these individuals, these slices of the universe.
So it’s a very natural, understandable kind of security system, kind of a defence, a defensive strategy, a defensive mechanism, to isolate my personal bubble.
I am going to protect myself against everything that’s out there.
And it becomes me versus the world.
Inside the bubble of myself, versus everything outside the bubble.
And that’s what is sometimes called “ego”, it seems, although there’s so many different definitions in the details of it.
But it seems to be about this focus of “I” versus “not I”.
Myself versus everything else.
To some extent, it seems like it’s so hard to completely get rid of that, and I think it’s even debatable whether we should entirely remove it.
Because it’s very practically useful to have this kind of defence and security as part of getting along in a dangerous and sometimes hostile world.
But of course, it can so easily be taken too far.
We live in this bubble, we exclude what’s outside, we work to enhance ourselves, make our own bubble better, at the expense of what’s around us.
But then we’re just gonna die anyway, so we’re not making anything lasting if we just build up ourselves.
And even within our own lives, you know, people who are just too focused on themselves, often it doesn’t go well.
And we all know those people who, you know, who are very selfish and all about themselves, and they seem to have happy lives, so I don’t know if it’s guaranteed that being selfish leads to unhappiness.
But it seems like it is a very dubious strategy for happiness, because in most cases, if we go full selfish, we’re just not going to be very likeable to anybody else, we’re not going to build good connections with other people, and we’re just going to become increasingly isolated.
No matter how strong any of us is, if we’re isolated and alone, we can never really be all that strong.
Just one little bubble, one little slice of the universe, is just two isolated and weak to, it seems, be very happy.
So somehow we have to find this balance of how much to focus on ourselves.
And one thing that seems to be something that encourages going too far in the selfish direction, the over-focus on “me me me”: it’s almost like it’s a fear and a lack of trust in the universe.
It’s like I’m afraid of what’s out there.
I don’t trust anything that’s out there.
Therefore I need to make my wall around myself and strengthen myself.
If we look at many of the dark things going on in the world, then it’s very easy to make a case for this.
But on the other hand, if we have some kind of a trust in the universe that things will be OK, that somehow we will be taken care of and everything will be OK in some way, even if we don’t put all our energy and effort into protecting and strengthening ourselves, if we allow ourselves to be open, and not be cut off from the universe but to work together with what’s out there with ourselves and what’s outside ourselves, to all work together with a kind of trust and faith that it will be OK: we don’t need to constantly forever be on guard for any possible threat and constantly upgrading our defences to deal with all the threats out there, just focusing on strengthening our own tower of solitude, because we can trust that we can be part of this connected everything.
This whole universe somehow is not a hostile place.
Of course there’s threats within it, but the overall sense of being in a good universe that will take care of us: well, if we can have that kind of trust and faith, then it seems like we can let down the barrier between ourselves and outside ourselves, and we can then afford to be less selfish and more connected with everything around us.
So that all sounds nice, but how do we actually do that? How can we develop such a trust and faith in the universe, when it seems like the case for “dangerous, hostile universe that must be defended against”, that case it seems is a lot easier to make.
The “loving, friendly, and caring universe that everything will be OK”: that seems like a harder case to make.
But if we could make it, then that maybe can be a key towards having a more open and selfless approach to life.
So I’d be curious to hear what you think about this.
#selfishness #trusttheuniverse #selflessness