The Dalai Lama is a selfish guy
People often tell me that they feel selfish working on themselves and doing spiritual work. After all it takes time away from family and friends, and it takes money, and people naturally feel bad using these resources to sit around and seemingly do nothing. My counter to that usually goes something like this: do you think you can make positive change anywhere before you make positive changes in yourself? Gandhi said “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him.… We need not wait to see what others do.”
The biggest polluter in the world are the negative thoughts and tendencies we put into the atmosphere and into the space we all share. If you don’t believe that, spend a day or more in the company of a very grumpy, caustic personality and see how you feel after. See how your behavior is towards friends and strangers after immersing yourself in this toxicity, see what your outlook on the world is. Or hang out in an extremely manipulative environment and observe how you then act in the world. Are you really able to not bring that stuff home and spill it on your family, or dump it on your casual acquaitances and the other people sharing the highway or train that you take back and forth to work? Some of you are in these kinds of situations all the time and you may not have the choice to remove yourselves. Changing the other people in that situation really isn’t an option if you think about it. Surely, someone else thought to do that already, and if they didn’t succeed most likely you won’t either. So now what? Do you want to continue to be a carrier, or find a different option?
Just because you can’t SEE the outcome of spiritual work doesnt mean you, and everyone around you, are not GETTING something from it. Parvathi once spoke of a student she had who was convinced she wasn’t getting anything from her private yoga sessions and really wanted to stop but her family wouldn’t let her.
This consciousness-raising work is not selfish. One might even say NOT doing the work if you have the inclination, the means, and the opportunity is selfish. As my teacher pointed out on our last retreat, the majority of the people in the world are struggling daily to survive, to literally not die. Those of us who live in relative peace with enough food and a safe place to live are the minority. If we have the ability to bring light in to the world by clearing our mind, by finding our seat of authentic generosity, by not polluting the world with our negative, repetitive, old worn out thoughts and tendencies, misperceptions and envy, why would you not do it?
If you said “Well, it’s not easy…” you would be right. It takes time, discipline and courage. But please don’t think it is selfish work, because that implies that all the people who are doing it now are selfish- like the Dalai Lama, like the all of the monks who gave up worldly possesions to pray for world peace, and the priests, ministers and other spiritual leaders we are so fortunate to have in this world. Have you ever thought about what this world would be like without them? I am sometimes chilled to the bone considering it- if there weren’t so many people praying for the welfare of this earth and all the inhabitants, where would we be now? If we think there is too much darkness and cruelty in this world today, what if those spiritual beings also thought this path to be selfish? Is the world a better place because you vacuumed your carpets instead of sitting down to clear your mind?
Yesterday I had the great fortunate to spend an hour with a new client who was struggling. It was beautiful to witness her unfolding. During our session she was able to recognize her power and light in a non-threatening way, and she left smiling and hopeful because she felt she could now show her children the love and attention they crave, something that she craves too. As a result of this session I was home too late to prepare dinner. I looked in the fridge only to find that my 16 year old had prepared a beautiful salad, fresh corn and peach cobbler for our dinner. See, when you make room for spirit to emerge, the universe will support your effort. Try it and you will see.
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