Disadvantages of self-centeredness
Disadvantages of self-centeredness
The text now turns to relying on the method for happiness in future lives. Part of a series of teachings on the Gomchen Lamrim by Gomchen Ngawang Drakpa. Visit Gomchen Lamrim Study Guide for a full list of contemplation points for the series.
- Investigating the empty nature of mental states
- Review of the five decisions
- How self-centeredness operates in our lives
- Disadvantages of self-centeredness
Before doing this mediation, Venerable Chodron says that it’s important to remember that self-centeredness is not who we are. It is added garbage on top of the pure nature of the mind. If we complete the meditation and we hate ourselves for being selfish, we’ve added something to the meditation that the Buddha did not intend. The meditation does bring a sobering effect to the mind, but you shouldn’t feel discouraged. We have to separate ourselves from the self-centered thought. If it helps, you can anthropomorphize it, making it into a shape or character, pointing your finger at it, blaming it and accusing it.
- Self-centeredness is very much mixed in with our afflictions. When we’re attached,, who do we care most about? When we’re arrogant, lazy, have no consideration for others, etc, what is fueling all these defilements? Can you identify the self-centered thought behind it? (I’m more important than others…) Think of specific examples in your life where your afflictions were particularly strong. What affliction was predominant? Was the self-centered thought lurking there in the background?
- Consider the complaining mind. What kinds of things do you complain about? This too is the self-centered thought. Think of specific examples of complaints you have. Can you identify the self-centeredness? Consider: even if you got what you wanted, would you be everlastingly happy? What does your self-centeredness really get you?
- Geshe Jampa Tegchok in his book Transforming Adversity into Joy and Courage accuses the self-centered thought in a number of ways. Consider how each is true and make examples from your own life:
- Self-centeredness, you are a slaughterer!
- Self-centeredness, you are a thief!
- Self-centeredness, you are a trouble-maker, a terrorist!
- Self-centeredness, you are a farmer of evil!
- Self-centeredness, you are a lazy bum!
- Self-centeredness, you are greedy!
- Self-centeredness, you are full of false hopes and fears!
- Self-centered thought wants us to think that everyone else is the problem; that our suffering and happiness come from outside of us. We have to keep reminding ourselves again and again of what we learn in meditation, how our wrong views have deceived us. Resolve to habituate your mind with the many disadvantages of the self-centered thought, how it harms yourself and others; watch for it in your daily life and apply the antidotes we’ve been studying (developing equanimity, the five decisions, generating bodhicitta, etc).
Venerable Thubten Chodron
Venerable Chodron emphasizes the practical application of Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. She is well known for her warm, humorous, and lucid teachings. She was ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1977 by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche in Dharamsala, India, and in 1986 she received bhikshuni (full) ordination in Taiwan. Read her full bio.