In the last video I looked at sort of a minimum level of “selfishness”, where no matter how giving and universal and selfless that we choose to be, there’s always something a little bit special, it seems, about our little corner of the universe, that leads us to put a little bit of special attention to it, just because we have the control and care over ourselves greater than anybody else.
Except possibly maybe children, or you know, someone in our care might approach that.
But we have to take care of ourselves with more detail than for anybody else.
Like you know, we’re brushing our teeth: you know, we think about “I have to make sure I brush every part of my teeth and gums correctly”, and you know you take care of all those details, because that’s up to you.
Nobody else is brushing your teeth for you, I would guess, so we don’t think about somebody else.
And you know, as much as we care for that person, we don’t – I’m assuming here – worry about the details of exactly how that person is brushing his or her teeth, because that’s within that person’s domain.
It’s a personal domain.
It’s our our piece of the universe.
I mean, I can’t even say anything in this topic without thinking of all these exceptions.
I mean, you could be a dentist who’s a very conscientious dentist, and you want to make sure that somebody is brushing their teeth correctly.
You know, it could be a child that you’re taking care of.
And so this is just one example that there can be all kinds of exceptions to.
The whole idea of care: maybe it is possible to care for somebody else with the same intensity that we care for ourselves.
But the idea that I mean to say is that there’s something special about our corner of the universe that we have greater control over ourselves, our body, our immediate space, our actions, and so that gives a certain specialness of attention to ourselves.
And that’s maybe a minimum selfishness, a basic specialness that we have and we feel towards ourselves in some way, that seems to be justified even if we believe in total selflessness.
So what does it mean to go too far in that direction? Because certainly, it seems to be a much more common problem to be too selfish than to be not selfish enough or too selfless.
There seem to be some different forces involved that lead to or are connected with being too selfish.
So we have this corner of the universe, we have this piece of the universe, that is, you know, ourselves, our body and our actions, and that is a part of this whole connected system, the whole universe all mixed together, all these different beings and things and all together, and we have this local piece of it.
So that natural feeling of the specialness of that local piece, that from the practical point of view makes perfect sense, taking more care in ourselves because that’s what we have control over: it seems like it is so easy for that to be exaggerated, for that to be taken too far, so that we really see that this piece of the universe that we are, this local area, is ourselves.
That’s me, and I end at the end of myself and my domain.
And because there’s so much competition between different beings, and it certainly isn’t all a friendly, cooperative, peaceful paradise, it seems so understandable for us to go into a perspective where it’s one piece of the universe against every other piece of the universe, and its really all about ourselves.
But when we look at it this way, from the perspective of being a connected universe of which we’re just a piece, the idea of being one little piece of the universe and fighting against all the other pieces, when really we’re all one universe: that I think is a way of seeing this kind of the way that selfishness appears foolish.
If you see it from outside yourself, if you imagine having a bigger perspective where there is this whole universe with many parts to it, and then you see certain parts are sort of rebelling against the universe.
They’re saying “No, I’m not part of this universe.
I’m my own bubble.
I am different and special, and I have to fight against all these other bubbles, all these other little individuals, these pockets of the universe: I have to fight against them.
They’re trying to be me and I’ll beat them.” And how natural that is.
It seems like, you know, every spiritual tradition, every wisdom tradition, does something and tries in some way to address the problem of the individual rebelling against the universe and deciding “No, it’s me against the world and I will do what I can to take care of myself, no matter what the cost is to anything else.” It’s such a natural state to fall into when we see competition all around us.
So how do we not do that? What makes it possible to see the universe as something other than a competition of individual versus individual, or maybe group versus group? How do we move past that view?
#selfishness #ego #selfless