Let’s talk about self-interest. How do we define it?
This is closely linked with body consciousness and fear. The first thing is that when I’m in personal interest, I feel a contraction, I lose body consciousness and it is often related to fear, especially the fear of missing something.
We cannot judge self-interest through behavior, but through the intent and inner attitude.
Sometimes someone who gives can do it for personal interest. For Mother Teresa, we will never know if it is by personal interest.
I heard: “when there is no self-interest, there is no fear.” I’m not surprised because for me all personal interest comes from fear. The very creation of the ego is based on fear. Fear reinforces the creation of the idea of the ego.
Self-interest is how our original belief expresses itself in life.
Originally, I think there is the fear of abandonment and emptiness.
We cannot treat the subjects of personal interest and sincerity with oneself, separately. This is one subject. In this work, it is essential to flush the personal interest through sincerity with oneself.
I realize the trap of wanting to point to the personal interest in the other. This is in fact often made through personal interest, to avoid looking at oneself.
There is a very strong link between personal interest and the avoidance of suffering.
Self-interest, it’s how our original belief takes shape.
What is painful, is to look at one’s own filth.
I cannot know in advance, if someone asks me for help, if I’m going to help or not. It depends on the context; in fact, if one has a hidden meaning in what one does, there is self-interest. The right action comes in the moment.
Similarly, when I commit to help someone, I commit myself in the moment, but I cannot guarantee it in time.
Where you will find sticking points with this is in the social contract; with family, in society. You cannot lie to yourself anymore. You’re not willing to corrupt yourself. But the other people you have to deal with are not ready to relate in this way. One cannot avoid the reactions of others: there will be those who will walk away from you, or lecture you about your selfishness because they can no longer manipulate you.
Where is the line between self-interest and desire?
When you are attached. You can have wishes but should not let your ego be invested in them.
I have an example. I have a colleague with whom, we like each other… and I would love to see her more often, but we do not work together directly.
If there are opportunities, you take them, but you do not do anything in particular. The wish should not become a desire. Let life decide. Maybe if you never see her again, it’ll save your life. If you have a good feeling about her, that’s ok, but you don’t need to see her to have that feeling.
How do you situate the desire in this teaching, and is all desire linked to self-interest?
You have to go see why you want something. What is the intention, the root of desire?
For me the wish is independent of the result, whereas desire is tied to the outcome and associated with tension. In the wish, there is no tension.
In the desire, there is something that is missing. It’s like there is a gap that is experienced as a deficiency. You feel a need to get “some-thing else” to fill the gap. What is required instead is the acceptance of the necessary suffering related to the (false but convincing sense of) lack or fear of lack.
I noted that when I go with the desire, I see that I start thinking about all sorts of strategies to satisfy my desire, for example a meeting with a certain person, and I lose body consciousness. But if I come back in body consciousness, this is gone.
The important thing is that, whatever the outcome, it should not make any difference. But the desire, in my opinion, will disappear in the people that are present here. It is so futile. There is inevitably a tension and this gets you out of body consciousness and equanimity. Desiring something is a bit masochistic. It is not worth it. It is a disturbance to the nervous system. There is no justification to have desires.
In life, we must do some things “as if” because otherwise, it’s not going to go well.
The only acceptable desire is the desire to look for a teaching. It appears driven by false personality, but in reality, it is the essential value that is acting beneath it.
I agree that this is the only valid desire. That is, at first, wanting to understand who we are, embarking on the quest for the ultimate.
I would say that it is rather a calling. Because in desire, we know what we want, while we are there, when I started, I did not really know what I searched for.
Yes, I agree. But for some people, I know some teachers recommend putting all the forces of the ego into the quest: “live your ego, show me and live your desires.” These are people who are at first very determined. Anyway, if you come across a real teacher, it will help you to channel your energy.
When you’re little, you have no desires. You are in non-separation. When adults ascribe desires to what they observe in small children, those desires are only projection. Then as you get older, you lose that innocence. With the path, you relearn to regain the innocence of the child, but with responsibility and conscience, which make all the difference.
We talked about the difference between desires and wishes. What about sexual desire?
I would not call it desire. It’s organic. For me it is a non-issue. I see no relationship with the teaching. There are Tantric teachings, but it takes a Tantric master to transform sexual energy. It is not part of my teaching.
And the desire for alcohol, sugar, it is the same?
This is not a desire either. Addiction, yes. But it is not part of the work here. Once, I was asked a question about tobacco addiction, and I said it’s nothing compared to the addiction to the ego. This is not essential. The tools learned here are sufficient to overcome the addiction to your ego.
I confirm. Either you accept your addiction or you find your individual solution.
Isn’t addiction a way to create necessary suffering?
We don’t need tools to create necessary suffering. There are enough opportunities in life.
A way for me to avoid necessary suffering is to go away in imagination. For example, rather than confronting the absence of a desired person, I fantasize. Does eating sweets also provide a way to avoid necessary suffering?
It is not the activity of eating sweets, watching TV, etc. that is involved in the avoidance of necessary suffering. You have to be completely honest with yourself and look at your inner feelings to know whether or not you’re avoiding necessary suffering.
There was an Indian saint called Ramakrishna Paramahamsa who was always in ecstasy. And he ate sweets most of the time. He had almost no teeth. Someone asked him: “why do you eat so many sweets? It’s not very healthy.” He replied: “it’s the only thing that keeps me alive.” And indeed, when he stopped, he died in the days that followed.