Serving Others vs Serving the Group

Serving others instead of the self is seen as more spiritual, a higher way of living. But for me, it always seemed just as lopsided as the first. How is it better to always put the needs of others before your own?

I’m always reminded of what they tell people on airplanes during the explanation of the emergency procedures. If the oxygen masks drop, put yours on first and then see to any children who are with you. If you “altruistically” see to your two-year-old and then pass out before you get your masks on, then what? Your child won’t be able to carry you to the exit. They probably won’t even be able to get their seat belt unbuckled. Other passengers are going to have to tend to you. And now instead of someone easily carrying an unconscious two-year-old down the aisle, they’ll have to manoeuvre a full grown adult, slowing down the evacuation and putting people at risk.

Having the intention of serving the group resonates with me far more. Because I am included in the group. Doing something that makes me unhappy in order to make someone else happy doesn’t serve the group because there is still an unhappy person. Going without something I need so that someone else can have it doesn’t serve the group because there is still a group member in need.

I’m not saying that if I have one cookie that I know is my friend’s favourite I would never offer it to them. That would make me happy. I’m talking about doing things that decrease my level of happiness, cause me great stress, or work to my detriment with the aim of increasing someone else’s happiness. If I found out a friend did something really nice for me but it caused her great hardship, I wouldn’t feel happy about it.  

I don’t feel happy knowing that my happiness comes at the expense of someone else’s.

If that cookie was both our favourite and the company that made it was going out of business, it would be wonderful to split it and enjoy the last delicious crumbs together. I think that would be a nicer memory to share rather than one person looking on as the other gobbles it up.

Service to the group, me included, seems to be more in line with finding a win-win scenario. The group wins when everybody wins.

Masculine and Feminine Colours

Traditionally in many parts of the world, darker colours have been considered masculine while lighter colours have been considered feminine.

But when you read about Yin and Yang or other traditional or spiritual descriptions of  duality or the Divine Masculine and the Divine Feminie, it’s actually the masculine energy that is described as light and bright while femine energy is described as dark and mysterious.  In different ancient cultures the sun is masculine while the moon is femine.  Yin is the shady side of a hill while Yang is the sunny side.

Things are changing now as more  people wear whatever colour they like (it’s not unusual to see big, tough NHL players in lilac or bright pink suits anymore), but I think that men were drawn to darker colours not because they are more manly or macho but because they are femine and vice versa with ladies.  People were drawn to those colours that were representations of the other half of the duality —their complements.

Maybe it’s a good sign that there is more “colour freedom” now.  Maybe it means that more of us are no longer holding to the extremes of these principles and denying the complementary energy.  Maybe we humans are moving closer to true duality.

Selflessness and Doglessness

Here is a passage about selflessness from the book Ruling Your World by Sakyong Mipham.

Even when we speak of selflessness, the mind goes to “me.”  We think, “I’m selfless,” but everything is selfless.  Saying “everything is selfless” is like calling that stone “dogless.”  It might give the impression that a dog was there at some point, but it never was.  It was our idea of a dog that was there.  Similarly, we say everything is selfless, but the Self was never there.  There was only our idea of a self.

~~Sakyong Mipham

I’ve had trouble wrapping my mind around the concept of selflessness, but the analogy of saying a stone is “dogless” got me to look at it from a different angle.  He is trying to get us to see that the word “selfless” itself is revealing our bias or assumption.  He is saying we are starting from a manufactured place of “self” and then creating the term “selfless” to point back to the state of being without self, but that “self” was something we made up to begin with and “selflessness” is what truly is.

Continue reading “Selflessness and Doglessness”

Exploring Reality for Myself

I feel as though I’ve had a thick, wooly blanket thrown over my mind.

Why was I so consumed with reading about other people’s thoughts, beliefs, and theories about the nature of our reality instead of just experiencing it for myself?  Why did I accept other people’s views about what was possible or impossible even as I had experience after experience showing me the exact opposite?

Now, I am starting to feel a new sense of enthusiasm and freedom.  Even the familiar view out of my bedroom window seems fresh and exciting.  Maybe this is a wee taste of how the explorers of old felt as they sailed or hiked away from everything they knew, into the beautiful unknown.

I bought in to the idea that everything had already been dissected and categorized and now it was up to me to make sure that I learned the officially agreed upon version and stayed well away from anything too close to the fringes.

I feel as though we know next to nothing about the true nature of our vast reality.  And that is a wonderfully exciting thought.

Since There Was Nothing Before There Isn’t Anything After

It occurred to me this morning that my old belief that there is just nothing after we die (oblivion) was based almost entirely on the fact that I couldn’t remember anything from before this life.  Since I didn’t know anything from before I was born I must not have existed, and I would go right on back to not existing after I died.  This is the belief I settled on with very little, if any, actual thought on the matter.

I’m not sure why I came to believe this despite several obvious problems with this shaky logic.  For one thing, I didn’t remember being in the womb, or being 10 days old, or even being 1899 days old either, but I allowed for the fact that I must have existed because older people around me remembered me and were also able to produce some rather cute, if I don’t say so myself, photographs.

I believe now that we all existed before we found ourselves in these bodies.  We were in a completely different form of existence, but we were still us.  And I believe we’ll go right back to that non-physical existence after our deaths.  

I’ve come to see birth and death as simple transitions from one state to the next rather than beginnings and endings.

A new name for the Big Bang?

The most widely accepted scientific theory of the creation of our universe is the Big Bang.

While the birth of our universe is, of course, an interesting topic, something else caught my attention recently.  The fact that we call it the Big Bang and talk about that initial moment where our cosmos went from not-being to being as a violent explosion is a bit telling about how we see things.  It could have been The Great Expansion, The Massive Surge, or The Vast Becoming, to name a few possibilities.  But when we look at that initial, wondrous instant the only way we can conceptualize it is by using the same terminology that we use for weapons of destruction.

Is it just that we find it hard to understand a wave of that much energy doing anything but destroying everything in its path, or is it an indication of our aggressive, weapons-oriented way of thinking?