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Selfing, Not-Selfing


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In Western culture, particularly the United States, many are taught in their upbringing that establishing a strong sense of Self is the logical course of action as individuals. We usually relate to other people and all of the situations we are involved in with what it means to "myself", "me", "I". The words in and of themselves are used as a description. Yet, we so frequently suffer because of the desire to protect the Self.


The Self is extremely easy to become lost in. Our relationship to others in the world is often fueled by gross comparisons - thinking that you are better or worse than others in the myriad of ways: smarter than, less attractive than, taller than, wittier than, slower than, etc. Being caught up in thinking that you are better than someone else is the same as being caught up in thinking that you are below someone else. In both cases, we suffer or will eventually suffer. It is merely a comparison of the Self and others. We are, though, just people - regardless of nationality, height, weight, age, whatever the comparison may be. So rather than search for the meaning of Self - what "I" am as a form of self-identity - consider, as an alternative: What does it mean to be a person, a human being? It is not so specific in that regard.


Letting go of our Self is not the act of denying the existence of a Self or putting a hault to the things we enjoy doing, but rather, the progression towards not being caught up by the Self. The mind often feels heavy, weighted-down by all of the fragile assertions we make about who we think we are. So much suffering comes from this cyclical behavior. We have the capacity to simply be, yet still learn and grow and achieve great things because the activities we engage in bring us joy, optimism, etc... but our expression through action in the world is enough to satisfy the mind when we release and move forward.

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"Oh Lord, it's hard to be humble

when you're perfect in ev-ery way..."


The esoteric Buddhist dogma you're echoing sure sounds impressive, but do she reflect reality? Ehh, I'm not so sure.


First of all, Self isn't culturally imposed; the great teacher Nature shows it to be endemic in all species above, say, ant. (Don't trip; anti-ant I ain't. I'm just sayin'.) Quick example: I tossed a couple of earthworms into a tranquil, lily-studded koi pond yesterday and I mean, you should have seen them suckers fighting over the eats.


And suffering in Western countries? Okay, that should be a verifiable claim. Let's have a little peeky at the exhaustively-researched world happiness index, shall we?


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Blind me, look at that. All of the highest-rated countries for personal satisfaction are Western ones. How can it be, when we're so very far from enlightenment?

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Sounds like Eastern mysticism. I suppose if you can achieve what you're saying (not being caught up in comparisons, etc.) then you are right. I highly doubt it's possible to totally discount that from our minds, though. We are so caught up in these things because they are incredibly important to us.


To rewire our mind to accept a totally new set of standards or new method of viewing ourselves in relation to others is incredibly difficult -- borderline impossible. We compare ourselves to others for a very specific reason; we wish to know our true value. We measure this by relative attraction, intelligence, wit, and the other things you typed. We do this because most of us are not content to just be -- we can't define our true worth in any way that escapes comparisons because for many it is undefinable or simply unknown. Few of us know our worth outside of comparisons. We all do this either straightforwardly in the attraction game, or more subtly in things like career choices, etc.


I think this is the kind of thing that one has to be ingrained with from the start. I, for example, have a far easier time comparing myself to others than asking what it means to be a human. I do this because at times I don't even feel human or a connection to others. I feel totally severed from humanity most of the times in all honesty. Each of us have individual goals, dreams, desires, etc. and outside of that sphere people are irrelevant unless they directly aid us in our goals or stand in our way. You can walk down the streets of NYC amongst thousands of people and still feel totally alone...I think this is what I'm trying to describe.


The question then is this: How do we achieve what you described?

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