We do sādhana for ourselves. We also do sādhana for the sake of the Self. And if we all did sādhana for the sake of the Self, then we would all be living in peace and love. We would not be killing, and we would not be blaming. We would be taking responsibility for our actions and being empowered to change ourselves and the world.
But as small selves, we do not want love. The small self can’t get love; it can only get attention and coddling. It only seeks enabling. As small selves, we choose to be victims. We want to be soothed, and we call that compassion. So our selfish sādhana really is selfish; it only serves our small self. We are forcing others to cater to our needs. True compassion and Love are neither enabling nor needy.
In Reality, each of us is All. There is just the Self. As each of us truly changes and turns to God, everyone changes. So we should be selfish—in the sense of Selfish. Then we will all benefit. Each of us going inward and doing tapasya will actually be contributing to the greater good. We create a furnace within that burns up our impurities. As we move closer to God, the world moves closer to God.
It follows that the further we move away from God, the worse the world becomes. When we insist on a stable narrative, a stable small self rather than a core that resides in the Heart, we stray further and further from Reality. We then believe our narrative is the core of our being. If we find ourselves taking things personally, then we should know that we are identifying with our narrative. That is okay if we are conscious of it, but then we should not pretend to be somewhere we are not. We need to accept where we are; that way we begin to gain distance from our narrative.
But if we are identified with our narratives, then even what we consider selflessness becomes selfish. It can even become monstrous. As Erich Hoffer observes in The True Believer, “The inordinately selfish are particularly susceptible to frustration. The more selfish a person, the more poignant his disappointments. It is the inordinately selfish, therefore, who are likely to be the most persuasive champions of selflessness….And though it be a faith of love and humility they adopt, they can be neither loving nor humble ” (48).
In order to get rid of our selfishness, we must accept it, and all that it entails. If we want to be truly human, we have to accept all that lies within us. If we refuse to accept, we become emotionally, sometimes physically violent defenders of our narratives. Thomas Cleary explains this in his excellent introduction to Sun Tzu: “Lao-tzu and Chuang-tzu show that the man of aggressive violence appears to be ruthless but is really an emotionalist; then they slay the emotionalist with real ruthlessness before revealing the spontaneous nature of free humanity” (28-9).
In Yoga Sūtras 2.34, Patañjali makes clear that evil inclinations arise from greed, anger, and delusion. At a pre-verbal level, these vibrations emerge, like everything else, from the Heart. If we refuse to accept them, we choose to let them run us and contribute to the disharmony in the world. If we ruthlessly face ourselves, accepting and mastering whatever vibrations come up, we will no longer construct narratives to defend.
So choose your selfishness. You can have the selfishness that perpetuates the very things you complain about. Or you can have the Selfishness that manifests Love.
Share this Post