Like most of other people, I am interested in my progress, my job, my family, the little house in which I live, in getting a better position for myself, more prestige, more power and domination over others, and so on. What is your fundamental, lasting interest in life? Yourself? That is what most of you would think to say if you do it truthfully.
Ethically, some of us would say that it is wrong to be primarily interested in ourselves. But what is wrong about it except that we seldom decently, honestly, admit it? If we do, we are rather ashamed of it. So there it is – one is fundamentally interested in oneself, and for various ideological or traditional reasons one thinks it is wrong.
You may say that it is more satisfactory to help another than to think about yourself. What is the difference? It is still self-concern. If it gives you greater satisfaction to help others, you are concerned with what will give you greater satisfaction. Why bring any ideological concept into it? Why this double thinking? Why not say? ‘What I really want is satisfaction, whether in enjoyment, or in helping others, or in becoming a great saint, scientist, or politician?’
It is the same process, isn’t it? Satisfaction, in all sorts of ways, subtle and obvious, is what we want. When we say we want freedom, we want it because we think it may be wonderfully satisfying, and the ultimate satisfaction, of course, is this peculiar idea of self-realization. What we are really seeking is a satisfaction in which there is no dissatisfaction at all.
Most of us crave the satisfaction of having a position in society because we are afraid of being nobody. Society is so constructed that a citizen who has a position of respect is treated with great courtesy, whereas a man who has no position is kicked around… This craving for position, for prestige, for power, to be recognised by society as being outstanding in some way, is a wish to dominate others, and this wish to dominate is a form of aggression. The saint who seeks a position in regard to his saintliness is as aggressive as the chicken pecking in the farmyard. And what is the cause of this aggressiveness? It is fear, isn’t it? Fear is one of the greatest problems in life. A mind that is caught in fear lives in confusion, in conflict, and therefore can be violent, distorted, and aggressive.
Living in such a corrupt, stupid society as we do, with the competitive education we receive, which engenders fear, we all are burdened with fears of some kind, and fear is a dreadful thing that warps, twists, and dulls our days…We are all afraid of something; there is no fear in abstraction, it is always in relation to something. Do you know your own fears – fear of losing your job, of not having enough food or money, or what your neighbors or the public think about you, or of not being a success, of losing your position in society of being despised or ridiculed…? And what do you usually do about them? You run away from them. Don’t you, or invent ideas and images to cover them? But to run away from fear is only to increase it.
One of the major causes of fear is that we do not want to face ourselves as we are. So, as well as the fears themselves, we have to examine the network of escapes we have developed to rid ourselves of them. If the mind, in which is included the brain, tries to overcome fear, to suppress it, discipline it, control it, translate it into terms of something else, there is friction, there is conflict, and that conflict is a waste of energy. We must therefore give up our selfishness to get rid of our fear of losing our domination etc.
Be Happy – Give Up Your Selfishness.