Starting a Revolution

by Robert Wolfe on May 3rd, 2010

The most important single thing you can recognize about the human condition is this: for whatever reasons, we each “normally” evolve from childhood with the sense of being a separate individual, a particular “person”, an autonomous “self”.

It is obvious that, under this circumstance, we develop “self-interest”: primary concern for the welfare of one human being before all others. It is evident that a self-centered focus inevitably results in selfish behavior. In a world in which each person’s priority is to advance one’s own interests, it is unavoidable that conflict will result.

A world in conflict is not a stable or secure environment in which to live: it is difficult to make practical plans for the future, where unpredictable disruption is virtually certain. Therefore—even though our own selfish behavior may be contributing to the potential for destructive developments—we recognize that it is in our own self interest to encourage cooperation.

The consequence of this contradictory dilemma, for most everyone, is a form of externalizing. We look out upon the world of self-important persons, or collective groups of such persons, and conclude that “they” are at the root of the problem. In our own self-concern, we ponder how we can encourage them to cooperate rather than compete.

The contrary option requires us to embark ourselves upon the course we advocate: to dispense with self-interest as our primary concern. It is a consequence of internalizing, of “looking within” and acknowledging that we have not yet relinquished self-centeredness ourself.

Where, do you suppose, we have the greatest prospect in convincing a person to eradicate selfish behavior: ourself, who comprehends its necessity; or another person, who may or may not be thoroughly convinced?

There is only one way in which you have definite assurance that selfishness will be reduced in the world. Once you have accomplished that, for yourself, you will be best qualified to instruct others in how it can be done.

There is a clear and continuing need for such instructors. Indeed, if there were such a thing as a social duty, it would be to labor in the vineyard uprooting selfishness. Your first obligation, then, would appear to be to discontinue externalizing and—with intensified focus—internally eradicate the self who persistently operates in a vacuum.

But how can the self eradicate the self—rationally, a contradiction? Could it be possible that our earliest assumption, that we even exist as a separate self, is fundamentally a misapprehension? Some aver that our earliest condition of consciousness—before we considered our “self”—was without any perception of self or not-self. It is, further, alleged this primal consciousness is the platform upon which our subsequent sense of self arises. In the same manner in which that sense of self has arisen, it can again subside. In other words, they say, the assumption of self existence is not entirely necessary to the function of operative consciousness.

If this is so, if our consciousness can operate without the perception of a “self” or non-self (“other”), this could have a profound effect on our self-conscious behavior, couldn’t it?

To discover for oneself whether or not such an operative form of consciousness is a practical possibility, as some of sound mind have claimed, would seem to merit more of our attention than that directed toward fruitless externalizing.

Were we to discover for ourselves such a possibility, perhaps we might then have some effect on the “me” against “them” mindset among our neighbors.


Posted in Living Nonduality, Monograph    Tagged with self, me, self-interest


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