Friday, April 15, 2011

Defense of "Self" = Suffering

When I defend or protect what is thought of as "myself" or "me," suffering occurs--in fact, all suffering. Some say that merely believing in a separate "self" is a cause for suffering, but there's no suffering in merely thinking there is such a thing as "me" or in perceiving Reality through the filter of "me." The suffering--unhappiness, fear, resentment, anger, denial, loss of freedom--happens when that "me" becomes something that must be defended or protected.

For example, if my husband says that he wants to leave me, that he isn't happy, that he doesn't think he loves me anymore; there is nothing in what he says or does that could cause pain, unless I thought that his words and actions were an attack on or harmful to "me." The minute I suppose that his words or actions are a threat to "me," suffering begins--pain, outrage, unhappiness, sorrow, anger, unrest and struggle. Because now, I must defend "me." I must try to get back, keep, or hold on to the security that is threatened. 

In this moment, I am totally immersed in self. Totally sunk in self-centeredness, selfishness, self-absorption. Separation, panic and anxiety occur. The mind races--"How can I fix this?" "How can I make sure that I am okay?" I have now completely separated from the unity of All That Is. Feeling alone and trapped in a strange, lonely, and hostile world, my only recourse is attack and defense. "I" must win at all costs. I must stop this from happening, or if I can't stop it from happening, I must protect myself against the attacker (in this case, my husband). He is now the enemy. In fact, what has happened, is that I have allied myself to a non-existent perception of self, which requires that I wage war against all perceived threats.  I can no longer feel at peace, content or right.

This stance makes the world a very unsafe and hostile place in which to live. "Self" is constantly under siege. Seeing life through the filter of "I must protect this 'self' at all costs," guarantees that we will live in constant fear and readiness to do battle.

This recognition does not come because "self" wishes it to. "Self" cannot will its own destruction, which is what this ultimately means. However, questioning might lead to realization. "Who or what do I resent?" "Why do I resent them?" "What have they threatened (usually either 'my' security, 'my' self-esteem, or 'my' personal relationships)?" One may begin to see how resentment, anger and fear are all based in the belief that there is a "self" and it must be protected and defended.

What, however, could your life be like if you no longer tried to defend this self? No longer defended against criticism, anger, dishonesty, loss, hatred, abandonment or any of the things "self" fears might happen to it. Let it burn. Let it die. See what happens.

1 comment:

  1. Hello Natalie.

    I love when you write : "Self" cannot will its own destruction, which is what this ultimately means." I don't know if that's true and it looks like my experience :)

    It reminds me of Tony Parsons who says he saw there are no individuals but that until then it was a body feeling to live as a me.

    This is exactly how I feel : no matter how many spiritual thoughts I read and have, no matter if I think "there is no real threatening", while something seems to threatens 'me' I feel the pain in the body.