You selfish bastard

May 30, 2010 by

You selfish bastard

“Am I Being Selfish?”

That was the question posed the other night to me. It’s an interesting question. Aren’t we all selfish about something at one point or another? Yes. But that got me thinking: is that a bad thing, and what exactly does it mean to be selfish?

Intimacy: Trusting Oneself and the Other

I was reading an interesting book called Intimacy from a Buddhist teacher. He has an unique point of view: “Selfishness is natural.  There comes a moment when you are sharing by being selfish.  When you are in a state of overflowing joy, then you can share.”

Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything

And Geneen Roth, the author of Women Food and God, talks about our need to beat ourselves up for being selfish.  For wanting something that we think we shouldn’t have (read that line again, it is something we perceive we shouldn’t enjoy, not something that is bad for us … it is our perception).  And in her world that want is a craving for food.  Or a craving to be thin.  Or some other craving that we can’t satisfy.  And we feel selfish for wanting.

This seems to fit right within my post on limitations.  When we are limited by outside forces, by our past, by society, by our own fears; we cope by feeling selfish for something that we could freely enjoy, something that as living, breathing creatures will enhance our lives.  And then comes the strange behaviors: The self-loathing, the bingeing or anorexia (in the Woman Food and God case), the closing our minds to the experiences.

So being selfish, or as Osho from Intimacy calls it “self-full”, is just being human.  And being human is the only true thing we can be.

So, here’s my question: “What do you think you don’t deserve.  Or if you do or get means you’re being selfish?”  Is it that shiny new car?  Is it that great desert?  Is it something else that you feel you don’t deserve?  What would the world look like, smell like, feel like, if you were’nt afraid, if maybe just maybe you did deserve it, and by having it you wouldn’t feel selfish, but self-full.  How would that change your life?

See you on the wire.

— Steven Cardinale

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