Many of the most devoted religious people I know are actually quite narcissistic. Their magnanimous pursuit of peace, love and harmony seems noble enough, but it’s actually because they are so self-absorbed and seeking these things for themselves. If they are fortunate enough to develop enough self-awareness to recognize this, they sometimes go the opposite direction. They start seeking to cause pain on themselves, thinking it will lead them to enlightenment. Other times their guilt at being so narcissistic causes them to sabotage themselves, as a way to punish themselves for being so unworthy. Either way, you lose…
The best example I’ve ever witnessed to the futility of self-inflicted pain was when I visited the Sri Siva Subramaniya temple in Fiji with my Breakthrough U group. The temple was surrounded by people with spikes driven through their hands, flagellating themselves, or dragging themselves around the temple, bleeding and bound by barbed wire. Like crazy people of many organized religions, they were playing the cosmic frequent flier game, hoping that by enduring enough pain in this lifetime, they would collect enough points to reach bliss in the afterlife. (Or in a reincarnation.)
A lot of organized religions teach that pain and suffering create purity and selflessness, but that entire premise is preposterous. Because you are never as centered upon yourself as when you’re suffering, and never as self-absorbed as when you’re in pain. If you have an infected abscess tooth throbbing and I called you with an opportunity to save ten kittens, five puppies, and the Amazon rainforest, you’d say something like, “I’d love to help you, but right now I simply have to find a dentist who can make this pain go away! Please try me later.” The same is true for depression. To be depressed, you have to be centered on yourself.
Creating suffering and pain for your self becomes self-defeating, because it makes you intoxicated on yourself and perpetuates the negative cycle. Whereas when you help alleviate suffering and pain for other, it takes your focus completely off your self, and moves you toward happiness. When you lose this self-absorbed focus on your self, you realize you are something quite different from who you thought you were. You realize you’re not playing the lead role in the opera – you are the opera itself. And that’s where freedom and happiness reside.
I read a sad story in the NY Times recently about a woman who was shunned by family and friends because she dropped out of the Jehovah Witness cult... as I said to my gal, they're not exactly walking their talk of forgiveness and acceptance are they?
What about helping the poor while condemning the rich, who makes the market which helps the poor? Same logic.
I was reading, agreeing, and understanding up until the last two sentences. I’m confused as to how someone is the entire opera, not just the lead singer. Is it that people will play all the roles at some point in their lifetime? Or that multiple roles are being played simultaneously and we should observe how they are interacting? How does that analogy fit all leading up to it?
Obviously I didn't make my case very well here. What I was trying to get across is when we're wrapped up in ourselves, we see ourselves at the center of everything. The lead singer in the band, the tenor in the opera. When you get off that, you first see yourself as a satellite player in the production. The goal is to lose that distinction as well, and realize you are an intrinsic part of the bigger production. -RG
I see now. It’s like deploying empathy to see things from other people’s perspective, deploy empathy to see a different perspective of yourself in the situation. Very deep. Thank you Randy.
this is cool. and making me think.
I don't get out much and find it hard to socialize with strangers even though its something i yearn for and value at times.
This weekend while sitting paralyzed while a crowd of people went by, a happen stance conversation inspired me to by food for this guy who volunteered to clean toilets. knowing what its like being in a metaphorical shithouse, i bout the poop cleaner food and just observed the experience.
I had the circulation law in mind! thanks randy.
I think it helped me get out of my head a bit at least.
If someone loose his arm, it is better to cut your arm too in order to make him or her feel better. Surely everyone going to benefit from this.
Still trying to write correctly.