Wednesday, May 09, 2012

The Blinding Brilliance of Self

We are too often blinded bythe brilliance of self.

I've had the opportunity to reflect over the last week in the aftermath of essentially putting myself outside the bounds of my normal life.  It's been an interesting experience, almost a sense of living a dual life within my body.  There are times when I have physically been able to feel the separation between myself and the intervening space and the outside world.

During this period of inner retreat, I've discovered how well attuned I am to my own self and my perceived needs.  It's a bit alarming.

Everything is filtered through the world of me.  Things are good or bad based on their impact on me; words are spoken not only to relay information or truth but to cover myself with glory or improve my standing with others or make myself look clever; what I do should directly (and quickly) make my life better or improve it.

But self is often a poor guide.

We all know individuals - perhaps we are even one of the them - whose life has been greatly impacted, perhaps even destroyed, by self.  People can and will destroy themselves chemically, relationally, financially, even physically - all by listening to self and what pleases it.

"Of course that's true" we're (really I'm) wont to say.  "But I'm not that way.  Sure, I've made a few mistakes in my time, but generally that's not true."

But to say that is not true is to make a value judgement about what the destructive nature of listening to myself can be.

I've not done "horrible" things  - but that's my own judgement.  Is the elevating of myself by belittling another that much less bad? Are the subtle attempts to sabotage my own work (consciously or unconsciously) because I feel ignored that much less bad?  Is bearing my anger internally by not speaking but acting it out in other ways that much less bad?

The reality is that self unbound by something else is ultimately destructive.  We may have good in us, but we are not inherently good.  It's a subtle difference, but it's a big one.  I can do good things - maybe string a great deal of them together - but that does not make me a good person.  Given time and opportunity, I will soon or later find a way to make the world all about me.  All about self.

I need something beyond myself - something that is not created by my self or by other selves with their own agendas (because other selves have their own agendas which tend to serve them)  to guide me in my own behavior.  Something that has an independent standard of what is and what is not good, judged not by its impact on myself or on others but on the world.

Something, remarkably, like God, who has probably been trying to tell me this the whole time.

It's funny, sometimes, how when you are forced into a space of quiet and apartness, you actually begin to listen.

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