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Dreams, selfishness, abundance

KeromeKerome Love, love is mysteryThe Continent Veteran
edited December 2019 in Mindfulness

Dear friends,

A few nights ago I had a dream, in which two voices were standing over me and one said to the other, “he is still selfish”. Then my bliss disappeared. When I woke up, I still felt that, kind of disconnected from life. So it caused me to start thinking about selfishness, and how it lived within me.

I had a long look at the patterns of my life, and I came to the conclusion I usually only did things that were to my benefit, or things where I had an obligation of some sort. It’s a consequence of economic thinking and being logical, and it’s a long standing issue. I reckon a lot of people who have had partners and children get connected more to other people.

A search on access to insight about selfishness turned up very little, just a few hits in translated articles. It’s a shame because I would have liked to hear the Buddha’s words on the subject. It’s worth meditating on, I feel, since it is common in this day and age, and so many people have more than they need but they spend little of their time on unselfish pursuits.

You live, you take care of the self, your body, a home, work. These things all follow on from each other. In a way that is a simple life. But when you live from basic needs and you don’t extend yourself into the abundance that is available around you, you also fail to give from your abundance. Some people have riches of time, others have riches of thought.

And what are the things that stop us? Little fears, of being thought foolish. Time to set them aside and be more.

Merry season’s greetings,
Kerome

personBunksShoshinDavid

Comments

  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran

    Powerful words, it feels as if you're talking to me.

    Let me push back in an area where I feel resistance, one of the main things stopping me.

    Being dependent on others. I don't think I have any issues receiving others help and generosity, my fear is that it comes with strings. Living off of others also gives them control over you. If I don't believe the "correct" things or have a different hierarchy of values that dependency can be used, probably not even overtly, to act or think differently than I would naturally, it might even act in a subtle way internally to influence me in disingenuous ways. My experience has been that people aren't generally very accepting of difference, even people who make a point of accepting difference are often rather intolerant of certain levels of viewpoint diversity.

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/hide-and-seek/201911/what-we-can-learn-loners

  • FoibleFullFoibleFull Canada Veteran

    Yes, that is how we think and act. Buddha called it "ignorance" and considered it to be the motivating factor UNTIL we become enlightened. And that is one reason why developing compassion is so important in Buddhism .. it takes us out of thinking solely about ourselves, and elevates all other living beings as being MORE important than we are. So that we act out of compassion and service to others.
    And in Mahayana Buddhism, they add in the Bodhisattva Vow ... a vow to continue to return even after one becomes free, in order to help all other sentient beings achieve enlightenment and freedom too. The ultimate unselfishness of an enlightened being.

    I am still at the point where I am primarily selfish, but I am beginning to learn (through action) that giving is more joyful than focusing on myself.

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @person:

    It’s amusing, I was actually talking more to myself, but as usual, you and I are on a very similar wavelength although our lives differ. It gives an opportunity for reflection.

    As usual, you are not wrong. There are issues of control. But that is very much being caught up in the mind. Real freedom exists in the mind, not anywhere else. In a way physical circumstances are secondary. The more free you are, the more you realise that showing resistance rather than compassion is counter to the flow of things.

    So really there comes a point where you start to realise that letting go of selfishness is also letting go of a straitjacket, a set of logical parameters that used to control your actions. It’s a question of starting to listen more to the heart and less to the head.

    I’ve been looking today at the Zen Peacemakers here in the Netherlands, there is a chapter and I like their brand of engaged Buddhism, I might get involved.

    Bunks
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    @Kerome said:
    I reckon a lot of people who have had partners and children get connected more to other people.

    I think you’re probably speaking to most of us @Kerome .

    I’m curious to know what you mean in your comment above? Can you expand on that?

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    I will try @bunks. What I was getting at is that most people with a variety of loved ones end up spending more time thinking about them, and less time about what is in their best interest. So it does tend to provide an avenue out of selfishness. But it is a limited avenue, which some people solve by changing their definition of self to include another. It seems to me that the problem of selfishness needs to be solved in another way, not temporarily by being with another being, although you can learn from that, it is a door that has been opened.

    Bunks
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think the liminal space Veteran

    That brings something to mind that I've been mulling over recently about anatta.

    It seems to me that there are sort of two definitions, or sources, of no self. One, that we easily recognize in the west, that is heart centered. The other, I would say, is more philosophical or existential, based in wisdom. That of realizing the makeup of our individual identity is contextual and not solid.

    I've heard HHDL talk of two paths to realizing bodhicitta, which is ultimately a union of wisdom and compassion. A wisdom path and a compassion path.

    So I think we can think of selfishness in terms of only thinking of yourself, not including others, or we can think of it in terms of a misconception of our ultimate identity, or lack thereof.

    BunksKeromeDavid
  • I've heard HHDL talk of two paths to realizing bodhicitta, which is ultimately a union of wisdom and compassion. A wisdom path and a compassion path.

    Yes that seems right.

    There is a third path of pure physical based awakening, that comes from body attention, such as yoga but that is far harder and slower. This is partly because the goal orientation of most yogis is health/fitness/mind relaxation ... it is the subtleties and induction of well being that arouses a deeper awareness ...

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @person said:
    So I think we can think of selfishness in terms of only thinking of yourself, not including others, or we can think of it in terms of a misconception of our ultimate identity, or lack thereof.

    That is certainly true, there is a link with anatta.

    But the whole question of no-self is not precisely clear in my mind. Not long ago I came across someone citing the Buddha, saying that when he was point blank asked whether there was a self, he refused to answer. When he was later asked why he had remained silent, he clarified that both to say that there was a self and that there was no self, was wrong to the extent of making Buddhist practice impossible.

    Perhaps the answer is that from some perspectives there is a self, and from others there is not. Perhaps the whole answer takes some other form. However it works, within selfishness there is definitely the question of self. If you come to the realisation that there is no self, then there is no selfishness.

    However, the patterns of thinking that make up self-interest, they can certainly persist, until you transcend the things that they are rooted in: survival, desire and egoism.

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