“Because 99.9 percent of everything you think, and of everything you do, is for yourself—and there isn’t one.” ―
(German translation will be forthcoming.)
What does this mean? The first clue is in the words ‘self ‘ and ‘one.’ The illuminating thought here is that the self is an object and not a subject. This is not merely semantics. It is not merely a thought exercise. It is your life!
The root of all suffering is taking the object self and making it a subject (me/who I am, i.e. ‘myself.’) Making a feeling/thought into ‘who I am.’ without truly investigating. When you investigate, you can see clearly this self like you can see the words you are reading now and if you see this self you know it can’t be you! Not only this, but there’s no such thing as a self, independent of memory. A self is a bundle of thoughts and feelings repeating endlessly.
So why is there a self?
The purpose of the self is to keep the body alive. It is like command central, or the mayor of NYC. It’s function is survival of the body. It’s agenda is protection in the interest of continuity. When there is any experience, when the self governs the moment, it’s only question is ‘what’s in it for ME?’
From the perspective of pure presence awareness, this self is a false self. It is false in that the assumption is that this self is ‘who I am’ when it is actually not who I am! A self is a very useful thing and there is nothing wrong with it as far as it goes, but when one is looking to get in touch with who they are beyond the body and beyond the personality, assuming this self is who you are and acting on it’s suggestions becomes the obstacle. If you want a direct and intimate relationship with this life you find yourself in, this false self-identification is your obstacle.
The false self and achievement.
There is a saying: Nothing fails like success. If we’re not careful, any achievement in this life, and especially the achievements of personal development, and so-called spiritual development, actually inflate the power of this false self, and fill the person with a sense of righteousness; a system of ‘good’ and ‘bad,’ with the self on the side of good, of course. This spiritual pride is a tremendous obstacle for someone seeking to wake up, because ‘why should I question myself if I am a successful XYZ?’ Does this apply to you. Well, if you think you are growing and getting better, you can be sure that you are the one I’m talking about.
The greater you see yourself, the greater will be the necessary sacrifice…but it is so so worth it! The greatest joy is when you realize that you are nothing in particular. No object. When you get comfortable with the idea that in truth you have nothing, then there are no fences to erect and no property to protect.
So what to do about this false self?
The answer is simple, but not necessarily easy. The answer is to do nothing about it. Just notice it, and stop identifying with it. Stop fixing problems that don’t exist. Stop acting like you have accomplished something. There’s nothing to accomplish in this arena. I guess the main word is stop 🙂 Just bring awareness to thoughts and feelings and learn to stop reacting to them. Your awareness will take you beyond this false self and all you need to do is stay quiet and alert as much as you can, as often as you can. It is the best most certain path and it is always available.
When you see the self as an object and not a subject, you are free to experience life without the filter of ‘what’s in it for me?’ This disinterested engagement with life is actually full of compassion, care, and appreciation, because when you’ve got nothing, you’ve got nothing to lose, and when there’s no fear of losing, there is only a full engagement with what is happening now; there is only true listening, 100% acting, 100% loving. It is the ultimate bliss and fullness.
That is the greatest joy because then you can be open to all and receive all and kiss this life as it flies by.