Most eastern and western teachers of eastern self-development theories and practices believe that westerners’ interest in self-development is their true intention. Consequently, they assume that whatever eastern theory or practice they offer the western mind will be able to use it to transform itself thus its selfish actions into actions that are in line with the fundamentals of the eastern philosophy: selflessness thus empathy and collaboration. Unfortunately, most western minds have not reached the level of maturity required to use eastern theories and practices or any other theories or practices to change themselves from selfish minds (or selves) to selfless minds (or selves). Therefore the selfish self remains selfish and uses selfless theories and practices to advance its own selfish agenda.
The problem continues to occur because our, westerners’, true intent is still ‘selfish’ thus ‘selfishness’ defines our actions. However, it is a new kind of ‘selfishness’. ‘Selfishness’ presented as ‘selflessness’. The selfish self has convinced itself that it can become selfless by pretending that it desires selflessness but its very desire to appear selfless is not a true and genuine attempt to exist as a selfless being, it’s just a new form of selfishness.
It is not that our western intention is not genuine, it is genuine, we do wish to improve ourselves. However, it is genuine only to the extent to which we are aware of our true unconscious intention thus to the extent to which we are aware of its ability to be genuine. Or, more specifically, our intent is genuine to the extent to which we are aware of elements (mental properties) that limit its genuineness. Unfortunately, most of us, are not aware of our true, unconscious intention, and of the elements (mental properties) that limit its genuineness. We refer to our rationalizations instead of our true unconscious intentions. Our rationalizations of our desires, for example: ‘we want to improve ourselves’, do not examine thus cannot explain our true, unconscious intentions, thus are not our true intentions. As a result, eastern theories and practices fail to create and individual and collective inner peace thus fail to unite us.
The problem becomes serious when one realizes that most eastern and western teachers think that our immature and unexamined western rationalizations are true, mature and examined intentions to change ourselves. The problem is serious because our western minds turn peaceful and compassionate theories and practices of the East (or any other region) into yet another selfish, self-serving western product. Hence quick fix yoga and meditation studios and associated merchandise.
The deep selfishness problem occurs because we, westerners, are not aware that we are not interested in letting go of ourselves in order to connect with other living beings (people, animals, and environments). We want to let go of ourselves only in order to feel better about ourselves, not because other living beings and the environment would benefit from our egolessness thus from our unity with them. Unity and peace we think we are seeking cannot occur because egolessness is not our true intention.
The western mind has completely misinterpreted the term enlightenment. Enlightenment is not an attempt to attain anything. It is not an attempt to become anything. It is not an attempt to experience anything. On the contrary, enlightenment means letting go of everything. It is not another award to be won. It is not something to acquire, it is not something to feel, it is not something to experience. It is not something to chat about after your yoga or mediation classes. When enlightenment does happen it is impossible to communicate it because the event itself is marked by the absence of everything so there is nothing to share. It is always there, it is always within us. It is us. It is not it, ‘enlightenment’, that we need to focus on, it is everything else. Only when we remove everything (or most things) from our lives does it become obvious to us that we are it. As long as there is something else to talk about we have not been able to let go of the things that we think we need to hold onto in order to ascertain our identity. Similarly, after it is over, there will be no need to talk about it. It will be clear how to lead one’s life, and, more importantly, one realizes that ‘enlightenment’ is not something that can be taught or forced upon a person.
True cooperation with nature does not require one to do anything to oneself, to others, or to nature. All that one needs to do is exist as one is, to be natural, not as nature, but to be nature. Letting go of everything means not trying to imagine any kind of attachment to anything. Even to say that we need to ‘become’ an element of nature is to imagine a level of complexity that does not need to exist for we are ‘nature’ precisely then when we are not trying to be nature, or anything else.
We are nature when we are not trying to be anything. We are being the most powerful form of love we can be when we are not trying to overcome anything in order to be become more loving. By trying to overcome anything, we become less than peace thus less than love.
So, how can one decrease one’s selfishness. The answer is in childhood. We need to change the foundation of human language in order to change the nature of the child’s relationship with itself and nature. We need to change the child’s cognitive and perceptive processes but that is a new article.
When it comes to adults, the best we can hope to do is to teach an adult human being how to live in a moment without trying to control that moment thus without being attached to the moment in any way whatsoever.
The only tool I know of that can help us with this task is creativity. Being in the moment and creating without trying to control the moment or the self thus without being attached to the moment, to the self or to anything else, internal or external, just communicating the experience of the moment through art, seems to be the least selfish way to exist as a human being.