The True Meaning of Selfishness
A lot of people act selfishly, but many of them are unhappy.
How can this be? They should be feeling good! After all, that is what being selfish means, doesn't it - looking out for your happiness?
Of course, most people would say the reason selfish people are unhappy is BECAUSE they are acting selfishly. By acting selfishly, it is said, we give in to our baser nature, commonly called 'human nature.' Human nature is supposed to be a condition that can't be altered - it's just a part of life. We have to fight against our baser nature, it is said, in order to get to a place of balance. The common wisdom goes: if you are selfish, you will probably be unhappy because you care little for anyone but yourself.
But perhaps this statement is the exact opposite of the truth; perhaps the me-me selfishness people often display is an inversion of a true, divine impulse.
Those who sacrifice their own needs for the good of others are admired and respected. Society also believes that allowing people to follow their inner desires will inevitably lead to chaos or, at the very least, imbalance. If we allowed children to study what they wanted, thered be a million artists and no engineers, a teacher said to me once. But this is nonsense! Although the parameters of our culture might change, wed have a highly motivated and productive population who loved their work, instead of a struggling and stressed-out one.
By the time a significant section of the population finishes school, we have regurgitated so much data on so many subjects that we have either been bored to death, or lost our direction. The standard educational curriculum exercises our intellectual muscles and teaches students to disregard their feelings which, unfortunately, suppresses the subtle inner voice. Intuition is no help on a math test or an engineering problem of course, but losing touch with your feelings is a bad idea, for it disconnects you from the Universal Operating System, like a ship in the water without a rudder. Now you are subject to the whims of weather, tides, and water conditions and life looks like a series of coincidences and probabilities. A variety of other factors, especially the economic necessity to make money or get a good job supersedes living our dream. Sadly, by the time we reach adulthood many of us dont even know what we are passionate about. Were just trying to make our way as best we can in a world of scarce resources and in our confusion, we try to grab onto as much as we can.
The problem isnt being too selfish, its not being Self-ish enough!
The guy who bulls his way to the front of the line is somewhere in the lower range of the emotional/vibrational tone scale, and even if he gets what he wants, he doesnt feel much better. Me-first behavior is an attempt to find happiness through the accumulation of physical objects, but that is a poor substitute for the life giving qualities that lie within.
True Self-ishness always leads to joy, because it is motivated always by the desire to feel as good as possible. It is only when we are Self-ish enough to be, do and act in accordance with our desires (not someone elses) that it is possible to stay balanced. Energetically speaking, a desire is a rush of life force energy, a connection to the divine inner self, which can never result in actions that are harmful. It is only when true desires are blocked that they become twisted and ugly. This statement goes against the common wisdom that human nature is greedy, violent and primitive. Human nature is precisely the opposite: we are born knowing ourselves as powerful, eternal, spiritual beings. Petty, competitive, churlish and violent behavior must be taught. It must be beaten into the heads of every one of us. Observe your family, friends and coworkers. Almost all of them are good people, trying to do the best they can. It would simply not be possible to build a sophisticated society if human nature was so base. All successful societies are based upon cooperation, not competition. Competition works not because it is adversarial, but because it inspires teamwork. Ask two angry guys to get something constructive done it aint never going to happen. All success is based upon cooperation. That is because we live in an attractionbased universe.
It is only when desires are blocked that they become twisted and ugly. Take Joe for example. Joe is a little child and is very eager and curious about life. His soul purpose is to be an architect, and he wants to find out how to build things. And so he is constantly pulling stuff off of shelves, getting into drawers, and trying to take things apart. These are very joyful actions to Joe, but irritating to everyone else in the family. As a consequence, he is constantly told by his parents and siblings that his conduct is inappropriate, and is disciplined accordingly. Eventually Joe learns to simply damp himself down in order to get along with the rest of the family. Of course by doing this he also shuts off the flow of life force energy, for that is what desire is. Eventually he begins to lash out, for he has learned that the creative expression of his desire is unacceptable. Joe becomes cynical about people and unhelpful to others, which just magnifies the difficulty, and he grows up to be unmanageable in school and at work.
All of this flows from a lack of true Self-ishness. In his desire to get along, he has mistakenly shut down his desire, and thus his own life force. Joe may, of course, re-connect to his desires at any time. But when you are a child it's pretty hard if all of the big people are telling you otherwise, as many of us have experienced.
Because Joe thinks his needs cant be met, he insists upon his fair share at every opportunity. To Joe, helping others is a joke. Nobody ever gave me anything, he says. Why should I give a bleep about them?
You are too selfish, Joe, people say to him. You should learn to open your heart and help others. Then you would feel a lot better. This is very good advice, if only Joe could do it! He has already tried that, without very good results. Joe has simply not been taught to be appropriately Self-ish -- in fact, he has been taught to deny his natural impulses. These natural impulses are supposed to be dangerous because they stem from a primitive survival instinct. After all, just look around at the mess the world is in! But that is a delusional assertion, a denial of the basic nature of consciousness itself. The natural impulses of human nature stem from a connection to life force, and it is resistance to this divine impulse which causes the selfish behavior people object to.
If you observe people you will quickly see that those persons who are most alive are full of desire, and those who look lifeless have little or no desire. Desire = life force. Shut off desire = selfish behavior. It's ironic that selfish behavior actually results from self-denial.
So the most dangerous thing you can do to yourself is 'go along to get along.' The denial of your natural, divine impulses is like strangling your true self. But in this society (United States) following these impulses can lead to embarrassment. What would happen if you woke up one day feeling so good that you just had to tell everyone you met that you loved them? Well, Im sure youd get a lot of strange looks, and probably a punch in the nose! It is, however, your denial of these feelings which causes you to be unhappy. Most of us practice self-denial so much that by the time were adults, we no longer feel the joy of living. We are just getting along. Then many of us try to substitute for true Selfishness by the accumulation of things, or the acquisition of power, or perhaps in a relationship where we hope that wonderful other can provide for us the joy and love that we have denied to ourselves.
Many relationships break down because each partner is looking for the other to supply the missing pieces in themselves. Mr. Right may come along one day and cause blissful happiness, filling in your psychic and emotional gaps. But what if he begins to change? Now youre in trouble! Now it is necessary to change him so that he fits comfortably within your space again, and we know what kind of messes that can lead to.
What about the pervert who wants to satisfy his desires to abuse children? Or the murderer who needs to satisfy his blood lust? That's not so divine. True enough, but this twisted desire is just the result of a true desire that has been distorted or suppressed for a long time, like Joe in our previous example. If you are allowing your desires without resistance, you will always be in balance. It isnt possible for a warped impulse to suddenly spring forth, despite what we see in the movies and read in novels. Like a stream diverted to a new course, it takes a lot of time and hard work to dig the new waterbed.
When a person is truly acting Selfishly, it is possible to be far more helpful to others. I have noticed that people who, as the song says, live the life I love, and love the life I live are very giving persons. But this giving stems not from a societal obligation to do the right thing, but from their own divine connection to source. When your cup runneth over, you naturally feel the impulse to give to others with an open heart. Again, this is ironic. True Selfishness leads inevitably to unselfishness.
Selfishness in the way Im defining it doesnt mean hogging more than your fair share. It means always making sure you are thinking and acting in ways that really float your boat. And if that means violating a few of societys Now Im supposed tos and Now I have tos, then so be it.
Its Too Hard to Change
I've always wanted to paint and do photography full time, says a friend of mine. But my computer job takes up so much of my day. By the time I get home I'm too tired.
Oh, if only I could only start that organic farm, says another friend. But I have to run the dry cleaning business to make ends meet.
If you do what makes you feel good in every moment, your life will fall into place just like you always wanted. Order will prevail, not chaos! Does this mean you should quit your job and pursue that acting career full time? The answer to that is, how do you feel about it? If you feel an inner excitement and energy bursting forth from within you, then submit your resignation tomorrow. But if you feel hesitant, or worried, or any negative emotion, youve still got a lot of resistant beliefs that are contaminating your vibration. With a point of attraction like that, you better not quit your job just yet!
Does that mean you should give up? Of course not! If you feel you have to keep working then do so, but find as much time in your life as you can for the things you love. The more time you devote to the things you love, the more time you will have for them.
Human nature is not a primitive, biological instinct based on survival of the fittest, its a pure connection to source energy. It is divine. It's only when that connection is closed off that selfish behavior is demonstrated. Every one of your desires is, in its non-resisted state, joyful and balanced, because that is an inherent property of consciousness itself.
True selfishness requires personal integrity. It requires you to stay true to your inner vision of yourself. When you do this you stay whole, and when you dont, you lose yourself, and joy gradually dies. When you BE yourself, people will like you, do you know why? Because by being YOU, you acknowledge the spirit within them. Because you remind them of their divine nature, which all of us share as spiritual beings temporarily incarnated within these human bodies. Because you share a common bond of joy with all life everywhere.
True selfishness is allowance of desire, without resistance, and results in the impulse to give freely to others. But it is first necessary to allow that impulse within yourself.