challenges of learning to live selflessly


After last week’s post, self/others, I thought it would be appropriate to discuss some of the obstacles I’ve encountered in actually putting selflessness to practice.

First of all, there’s the obvious… The Karmic momentum of acting selfishly is a tough current to suddenly turn against. But as with other things, with continued effort the current will eventually weaken and maybe even change direction! The more you remind yourself to think of others, the more often you’ll begin reminding yourself!

One of the biggest obstacles I’ve been tripping over, lately, are the afflictive emotions that surface after acting selflessly. Resentment, and thoughts such as, “I’ve been acting selflessly to you, now why aren’t you doing the same for me!” Fortunately, the contradiction in this way of thinking is blatant, and I can begin adjusting my thoughts accordingly.

It’s not that the intention of my actions were insincere, it’s still that Karmic momentum shoving me around. Thoughts such as, “What am I going to get from this?” or “I did this for you, now you owe me.” The roots of these continuing to sprout. Still much gardening to be done (undone?)!

As with any negative, afflicting thought or emotion, the key is to practice becoming aware of it as swiftly as possible before they can take hold and cause reactions. Usually, just becoming aware of them and being mindful is enough to dissolve them.

I think a good start is to not have thoughts such as, “I am acting selflessly.” The idea of “I” is useful in everyday respects, but requires a good deal of care in practice. It’s amazing how many ways “I” will get “you“!


2 responses »

  1. It’s sorta like surfing. At the beginning, every little wave knocks us over. Then, later, we can stay up on the small waves but the larger ones terrify us and throw us into the sea. Then come the occasional big waves – wipeout! I guess we could get off the surfboard and head to the bar. But, if we want to surf, then really we have no choice but to reenter the water over and over. We’re gonna get water up our nose and sand in our eyes, guaranteed.

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