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From Awareness by Anthony De Mello . . .
Selfishness seems to come out of an instinct for self-preservation, which is our deepest and first instinct. How can we opt for selflessness? It would be almost like opting for non-being. So, stop feeling bad about being selfish; we’re all the same.
Someone once had a terribly beautiful thing to say about Jesus. This person wasn’t even Christian. He said, “The lovely thing about Jesus was that he was so at home with sinners, because he understood that he wasn’t one bit better than they were.”
We differ from others—from criminals, for example—only in what we do or don’t do, not in what we are. The only difference between Jesus and those others was that he was awake and they weren’t. Look at people who win the lottery. Do they say, “I’m so proud to accept this prize, not for myself, but for my nation and my society.” Does anybody talk like that when they win the lottery? No. Because they were lucky. Is there anything to be proud of in that?
In the same way, if you achieved enlightenment, you would do so in the interest of self and you would be lucky. Do you want to glory in that? What’s there to glory about? Can’t you see how utterly stupid it is to be vain about your good deeds?
So if you stop to think, you would see that there’s nothing to be very proud of after all. What does this do to your relationship with people? I would like this young man came to me to complain that his girlfriend had let him down, that she had played false.
What are you complaining about? I said. Did you expect any better? Expect the worst, you’re dealing with selfish people. They’re not nice. If you’re honest, you’d see that they’re as bad as you are. They’re asleep like you. And what do you think they are going to seek? Their own self-interest, exactly like you. No difference.
Can you imagine how liberating it is that you’ll never be disillusioned again, never be disappointed again? You’ll never feel let down again. Never feel rejected. Want to wake up? You want happiness? You want freedom? Here it is: Drop your false ideas. See through people. If you see through yourself, you will see through everyone. Then you will love them. Otherwise you spend the whole time grappling with your wrong notions of them, with your illusions that are constantly crashing against reality.