22 Feb Commandment 1 – Be absolutely Selfish (not Egoistic)
This is my first commandment out of 10, for the full list please read the previous post.
For as long as I can remember I have been very cautious to act appropriate. To be a good citizen of the Swedish society. Even when I stopped caring so much about that, I still kept being very careful not to do the “wrong thing”. Of course I have not always succeeded and I also have a tendency to be tactless, accidently saying inappropriate things. But overall I have been well behaved and making sure I fit into the model. This was one of the reasons I went into a depression (you can read about it here)… Now I see more clearly this was because I did not have a clue about what I really longed for myself. I believe everyone is born with a unique gift to give to the world, but how are we supposed to find that gift if we are not allowed to be selfish? How to find your inner uniqueness if you don’t listen to yourself? I believe so many people are working with something other than what they want to do. I like the quote: “Go for your dream, otherwise you will be hired to full-fill someone else’s desire.”
We have been taught so many things by parents and society, and morality is a big one. If we are being taught, that means it is somewhat forced from the outside – it does not come from the inside. It did not come naturally. What happens to a child who is told he is not allowed to go near the water? I’m not yet a parent, but I believe most parents would agree the child will be very interested in what happens near the water. Another interesting example is the compulsion to teach our children to say an artificial “thank you” every time they receive something. There seems to be an idea that this word teaches them to be grateful. But can gratitude really be taught by forcing words, is that not a natural happening? What a parent in this case is actually demonstrating is that something is expected in return for what is given, the child should feel grateful or otherwise ashamed. In my eyes love is giving for giving’s sake – and I believe a child will naturally learn gratitude from loving parents. Besides, buying food for our children is a selfish action, something we want to do. Why demand a thank you for it?
When a force is pushed in one direction, there will be a counterforce in the other direction as an answer to that. This is physics Newton explained several hundred years ago. That means if we are told not to be selfish, deep down there will be someone who is protesting against this. The protest may not be seen on the surface. We cover up by polite smiles, doing favors, giving money to Doctors without borders and this well-behaved “thank-you” – but deep down the ego is still looking for what it can get out of it. I have learned that there is also a biological reason for this. The organism is selfish by nature, this was necessary to survive earlier in evolution. So there will be a contradiction, a “syntax error” in our system, since we from a young age are forced to follow some moral rules – when the organism really wants to be selfish.
I can go on about the theory, but the point of this practice is to come back to my own truth about what is right for me. To find out what I long for and not compromise, to prioritize this before what others want from me. This does not mean on the expense of others, hence the adding “not egoistic”. I am not by-passing others waiting in the line to the airport check-in, or taking the last three pieces of the cake. But I will not go to a dinner just because I am expected to. I go if I feel like it. And I expect others to do the same towards me, I don’t want people to come to my dinner out of charity – I only want guests who want to be there themselves. Furthermore I try to hang out only with the people I like to hang out with, I am silent if I feel like it, I read about what I am interested in – not what others expect me to or what is trendy and I don’t give compliments if I don’t mean it. Some people would probably call this integrity, for me it is being selfish.
What I have found out is that being selfish is much harder than I thought. Partly because of others expectations on my behavior, some people become uneasy when I don’t follow the patterns they expect. But also because it takes time to find out what the hell I really want to do if I only listen to myself. So much conditioning has been placed on us. But how are we ever going to find meaning, joy and inner peace if we don’t do what we really long for? And how can we give the best of ourselves if we aren’t happy? Instead we would be fake, programmed to follow something else than the lives we are here to live out – and in that being unable to give for real. Even though it may look like we are giving on the surface. The airplane safety instruction is brilliant in this sense: “First help yourself, then help your child”. Who would otherwise be there to help the other?
A wise man has said that the only potential for love is if two selfish people get together, AS LONG AS they allow the other to be totally selfish too. Otherwise it is just ego. “I am with you only because I want to be with you, and if you don’t want to be with me you are free to leave”. Total honesty and total freedom – only then love can be. I am not saying this practice is for all, but it is good for me and it is increasing my self-respect and consequently also my love for myself. When I have love, only then can I give love. There is a being inside me that flowers when I do what that being longs for. And longing is a good word. What we “want” is generally what the ego wants, for instance more money, fame and in my case before the celibacy, girls. To me, being selfish means to do what my being longs for. And like I said it is not as easy to find out as it seems, but one must start somewhere. Honesty towards myself has been the main key so far.