A Pure and Holy Selfishness (An Introduction)

“Selfishness is one of the qualities apt to inspire love.” – Nathaniel Hawthorne


Sidewalk Stencil: Love knows no boundsI wander, in this windswept world of ideas and thoughts, and wish I could escape it all.  Yet, the wish is yet another idea, part of the mind, and it seems as if there is no liberation from the voices in my head.

My soul, my essence, my spirit, has apparently decided it wants to play in the land of the Great Known. Here, everything is judged, defined, and falls under certain rules we must all live by. Judgment is a part of the breath of our physical form, for even the very act of being non-judgmental is an act of judging itself. Beneath the conscious parts of ourselves lies an undercurrent of patterned behaviors, of instilled thoughts and ideas that can only be vetted by the amount of suffering they cause. It seems as if the world around me is devoted to the act of suffering to the point where even the practice of detachment is devoted to it.  We suffer in the fact that we must become detached from those things that make us suffer, never realizing that it is the suffering itself that is an arrow pointing toward places of pure joy. Yes, Eve, it is possible to revisit the Garden of Eden, but first you need to wake up from your nightmare.

I am fortunate. I live in a society where, traditionally, being white and having a penis is an immediate advantage. Yet I feel distinctly disadvantaged as I observe the suffering around me. I see men forgetting who they are, struggling daily to act like their fathers and the men who taught their fathers. I see the glorious power of women being trampled on by the fear and insecurity of men taught such things by their ancestors. I see children being victimized by those who love them the most as the shackles of ideology and culture are placed upon them, and see the wonderful wings of a child’s imagination clipped as they are taught they cannot be who they want to be, and they cannot do what they find great joy in doing.

Of course I generalize here, describing the things I see pejoratively in the largest part of the whole I have lived my entire life in. My memory brings back a time when I was a conservative white male and saw the world through those eyes.  My, how the victims I see now were the victimizers then.  My, how those with the least were trampled under the weight of my idea that they deserved to be.  I remember how the poor were unworthy of my help, and how my white, male self was being victimized by the poor simply because I was forced to help them.

Today, of course, I have evolved and see things much differently. I’ve been wealthy and have lived the life of a wealthy, white man. I’ve had a gorgeous wife, a big house, fancy cars and money to spare. Yet, like a short-necked giraffe I could not reach the sustenance I needed even as I stood on the summit of the American dream. The fruit I needed to live was on a much higher place than I could reach, so something needed to change.

So, as is the case for most of us, something much more powerful than I took over. I lost my financial wealth and was forced to downsize a life that had gotten out of control, a process that continues even now. I lost the gorgeous wife, the fancy cars, and now live in relative simplicity. The talents that helped me accumulate wealth are still there, but my focus is now on what brings me joy. I write, I think, I protest, I work and I live to love my children. My children are not an aside to my workday, my workday is an aside to them. I have discovered the love of people I would have never known in my “past life”. I’ve taken charity, I’ve received and I have learned. I’ve learned to let go. I’ve learned to tolerate.  Most of all, I’ve learned to forgive and accept while always realizing that my choices are my power.  There, I’ve learned much about responsibility that goes well beyond the type my ancestors taught me.

I may not die the millionaire I once sought to be, but I will die a wealthy man. I will die a liberated man no longer a slave to the story I once saw as “my truth”. Today, I see my truth in the fact that I am a perfectly fallible man, full of judgments and opinions and thoughts and ideas. I accept the fact that there are times when I will judge you harshly for your actions, but I also accept the fact that the gaps between such judgment and my forgiveness of it is narrowing quickly.  Perhaps that is the role of judgment, to make us examine the gaps between the lower vibrations within us and the higher ones we seek to feel and how quickly those gaps close.

Right now I look to compassion and love for solutions that used to come in dollars and cents (no, not sense).  I’m talking about real compassion and love, not the kind that says “I’m beating you with this stick because I love you,” or “starving people is compassion because it teaches them they need to fish.” Compassion, to me, is defined by what makes me smile in service of others, and love is defined by what raises those tiny little bumps on my skin. That’s all. It’s not about you as much as it is about me.

This is a new kind of selfishness that I define as a “pure and holy selfishness.”  Here, my neck must lengthen not for the good of the herd, but so I can reach that fruit at the top of the tree that will keep me alive so that I may do some good for the herd. Here, my arms must widen so that I can hug you tighter.  Here, I must be happy so that I can make you smile. It has to be about “me first” so that I can put YOU first. It’s a simple equation that goes something like this:

complicated equation


Ok, I’m just kidding.  Actually, it is more like this:

I(x) = U(x)

If “x” is happy, well then I am happy and you are happy. But I have to be happy first.  I can also make you upset if x= upset. See how easy that is?

I can even change your x simply by being a different x first and choosing to stay there. Yes, I now love math when it’s taught like this.

I can attest to the fact that this is not an easy road to travel. It’s rife with the pain and anguish many spend their time avoiding. I can understand the avoidance, and I know that when the Universe says it is time you will have no choice.  It may not happen in this lifetime or even the next, but it will happen when your soul is ready to experience something new we profoundly call, “the truth.” One day you will wake up, swallow the red pill, and the pathway will change. Enjoy the journey, it is nothing but wonderful once the fog lifts and the sunlight warms your heart.


photo by: Franco Folini

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