Awareness — On The Proper Type Of Selfishness

DeMello Continued

On The Proper Kind Of Selfishness

The first thing I want you to understand, if you really want to wake up, is that you don’t want to wake up. The first step to waking up is to be honest enough to admit to yourself that you don’t like it. You don’t want to be happy. Want a little test? Let’s try it. It will take you exactly one minute. You could close your eyes while you’re doing it or you could keep them open. It doesn’t really matter. Think of someone you love very much, someone you’re close to, someone who is precious to you, and say to that person in your mind, “I’d rather have happiness than have you.” See what happens. “I’d rather be happy than have you. If I had a choice, no question about it, I’d choose happiness.”

How many of you felt selfish when you said this? Many, it seems. See how we’ve been brainwashed? See how we’ve been brainwashed into thinking, “I — how could I be so selfish?” But look at who’s being selfish. Imagine somebody saying to you, “How could you be so selfish that you’d choose happiness over me?” Would you not feel like responding, “Pardon me, but how could you be so selfish that you would demand I choose you above my own happiness?!”

A woman once told me that when she was a child her Jesuit cousin gave a retreat in the Jesuit church in Milwaukee. He opened each conference with the words: “The test of love is sacrifice, and the gauge of love is unselfishness.” That’s marvelous! I asked her, “Would you want me to love you at the cost of my happiness?” “Yes,” she answered. Isn’t that delightful? Wouldn’t that be wonderful? She would love me at the cost of her happiness and I would love her at the cost of my happiness, and so you’ve got two unhappy people, but long live love!

Ok, my answer to this one is a bit, um… adult. If you are young and don’t read adult-type things then you should probably stop here. Seriously, don’t send me nasty mail later if you read past this and something offends your more delicate sensibilities.

Ok, now that we’re all adults. What do I think about what DeMello’s saying? I think he’s dead on, and I have empirical evidence — my amazing sex life.

Now, you are only seeing this if Jenni has read and approved it, so don’t go thinking that me talking about it offends her. If I seriously thought this would piss her off, I’d not post it since pissing Jenni off has more serious repercussions for my life than just about anything else. ☺

So, Jenni. She is the person who I love the most at this point in my life. DeMello calls the nature of love into question, so what do I really mean by that? Well, I mean that I try harder to be emotionally vulnerable to her than with most anyone else. I work to see her perspective and treat her as an equal.

I don’t do that with everyone. I’ll be honest, when quite a few people talk to me they manage to convince me in fairly short order that they’re full of crap. I understand compassion and trying to see where someone else is coming from, and I certainly respect the essential humanity of everyone. Unfortunately part of the human condition is the ability to fervently hold dumb ideas and be unaware of it.

I do trust Jenni. Or, as Demello pointed out earlier, I trust the picture that I have of her. Hell, I’ve gone on a diet twice in the last year. Each time I started by seriously asking myself if I could pull it off this time. Did I pull it off? Uhh, no. Kinda close when Wayne and I were doing the hotness challenge, but other than that I’m a walking Hoover Vaccum when I’m near food.

So, I don’t even really know myself. I have access to pretty much everything that I experience 24 hours a day and I can’t get it right. Know Jenni? That’s just silly.

So when I say that I love Jenni, I don’t mean to imply that I know her. Trust is a feeling — a paradoxical intertwining strength and vulnerability — like normal vulnerability but without the fear of being hurt. I feel that more deeply with her than with everyone else.

I dislike how DeMello seems to dismiss trust altogether because he dislikes his understanding of where it comes from. It still feels nice, doesn’t it? There’s no questioning that. You can’t argue me out of this sensation through any quantity of mental machinations.

I see this as what the Zen Buddhists get into. “Don’t confuse the finger with the moon” is, to some extent, about not confusing signifier and signified. Don’t confuse your idea of trust, which could be wrong since it is just an idea, with the actual experience of trust which is grounded in your body and, in a way, irrefutable.

That’s what Descartes built the whole of our philosophy on: “Dubito ergo sum” — I experience doubting and that cannot be doubted. No matter how well I pry into the workings of the machine there is always that pesky ghost. This “me,” that is asking the question. The experience I’m having right now of writing may be little more than an illusion borne of the complex interaction of millions of neurotransmitters, but it’s a convincing one.

It’s tiring to try and think about it. It’s like asking a flashlight to point at itself.

Anyhow, I’m getting sidetracked. Sex with my woman was the topic. I love her. I don’t mean by that, “I expect that I will be happy about all her decisions.” I also don’t mean, “She is beyond improvement, and I have no judgments about the choices she makes.” I don’t even mean, “I expect that we will always be together.” I mean, “I love her.” I mean, there is an actual sensual experience that I physically perceive when I think about her.

It could well be that this sensation just comes from having spent time with this person and knowing that I have a high degree of belief in my capacity to predict how she is going to act. Because I can. I know that it matters for her to try and make me happy about as much as it matters to me to make her happy. She is willing to put herself out for me and I for her.

Does love need to be something more than that? It seems like it is a pretty nice thing if it is nothing more than two people agreed to strive for each other’s happiness.

So, to DeMello’s statement and how this relates to sexy time…

The intimacy of sexuality certainly does quite a bit to move a person toward comfort. If you don’t feel more comfortable around your lover than around most folks then you are probably doing it wrong. ☺ It doesn’t take you all the way though. Nearly everyone still feels a bit awkward still in the bedroom.

Jenni and I had a sitdown a while ago. We discussed that sex is a large and complex act, and both of us have certain activities that interest us that we’ve not been in a sufficiently committed relationship previously to explore. Since we are both foregoing having sex with anyone else for the rest of our lives this means that we will either explore our interests with this other person or not at all.

Since we were probably going to get to the more interesting stuff eventually, how about we just let go of being antsy and get down to the exploration? You can put whatever you like on the table and the other person agrees not to freak out and call you a deviant.

A very reasonable proposition and, it turns out, a profitable one.

One of the things that has always bothered me in the Taoist and Kudalini texts is that when they discuss Tantric sex they talk about the first couple hours being all about the woman. She is supposed to abandon herself and her spirit to the pleasure and he is supposed to revel in pleasuring her.

That always seemed like unmitigated bullshit to me. I wanted to be the one reveling in pleasure. I felt like I’d been invited to a party as entertainment to watch other people have fun. It seemed unfair, and I was a bit resentful, but after a while I gave up and decided cold pizza was better than no pizza at all.

I have since discovered that sharing an intimate and openly loving moment with someone you really feel comfortable with above, below or beside you is pretty enjoyable. Yoga is about connecting to the experience of your body. I always thought they were just superstitions and hung up losing about some hokey animistic spiritual essence. No, it turns out. It’s just one way of letting go of needing to hold on and compete.

At the very least, it is enjoyable enough that you can let go of caring about which of you is getting “more” pleasure.

I only got there though when I really accepted the commitment that I’d made to this other person and, in doing so, found the freedom of expression that comes from a mutual decision to seek understanding of another.

Rumi writes about lovers first finding God’s love in each other and I feel at times that I’m beginning to believe that.

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