It’s quite rare for me to arrive at an appointment, meeting or work at the exact scheduled time. I frequently arrive either a few minutes before or after. For instance, if an event begins at noon, and unless it’s a life-or-death situation or extremely rude to do so, I’ll arrive around “noon-ish.” The suffix “-ish” means “approximately,” “somewhat,” and “having the qualities or characteristics of”. Words like childish, girlish, mulish, and 40-ish indicate an approximate assessment. A state of “close, but no cigar.”
Consider the possibility that when we label ourselves or someone else as “selfish” we’re saying they’re not quite Self. Self is whole, complete, and unbroken. To be selfish is to live as a fractured part of the Whole, displaying the qualities and characteristics of Self, but missing the mark. In mathematics, this is explained as a limit. A limit is the value that a function or sequence “approaches” but can never actually reach because that value doesn’t exist. In mathematics, the best we can do is symbolize what the value “could” be or “would” be. In this life the best we can do is symbolize what we could be or would be; the best we can do is be self-ish.
In common knowledge to be “selfish” is to be egocentric where my primary concern and consideration is for my feelings, wellbeing, and comfort. The motive and intent behind everything I say, think, and do, is self-centered. In not so common knowledge, selfishness is the ultimate reflection of love and wholeness.
How can I share this perspective? One rainy day while riding the bus to work, I looked out the window, and I did not know what I was looking at. I couldn’t understand or care about anything I saw. I saw cars, buildings, trees, clouds and droplets of rain, but there was no relationship there, and without a relationship, there was nothing for me to care for.
To know anything, you have to first be separate from it, and, in that moment, I could not make a distinction between me and what I was seeing. I could not draw a line. I remembered the names of things but names did not provide the edges and space between objects as they once did. “Car,” “tree,” “cloud”—these labels were clearly superficial and quite meaningless.
It was the most potent feeling of Self I have ever experienced. Everything was me. Nothing was outside or inside of me. I cared about absolutely nothing because there was nothing there to care about. Nothing was excluded from the feeling of “me”.
This experience showed me one thing very clearly; I’m in the way. All the ways I’m trying to live life, be good, be kind and be loving is me doing too much. All the goals I have to be better, greater, more tolerant, more forgiving, and more humane — all of it is completely unnecessary. Whatever is going on doesn’t need my help, my knowledge, my interest, my sacrifice or my love. This world is being executed perfectly all by itself. My interference is the root of all I label as “suffering.”
After a few minutes the feeling of “one Self” began to dissipate and I was self-ish again. I then, began to feel and display the qualities and characteristics of wholeness: self- preservation, self-centeredness, egocentricity and narcissism.
Seeing and experiencing “Self” helped me see that it’s selfishness, not cleanliness, that is next to Godliness. It’s seeing that there is no relationship between me and an “other,” that allows me to be truly compassionate. It’s the inability to separate “you” from “me” that gives me space to evolve and grow as a perceived fracture from the Whole. Until I can truly see and feel that I am the universe, the best I can do is behave as if the universe is here for me. Until I muster the courage to be who I really am, and to see Self everywhere I look, the best I can do is be self-ish.