I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself. A bird will fall frozen dead from the bow of a ship without ever having felt sorry for itself. ~D.H. Lawrence
In Buddhist terms the root of human suffering is our belief and investment in a non-existent self. We take ourselves to be solid, real and substantial even the center of our individual universe yet the reality of what we are is fluid, changing, insubstantial and interconnected with everything else. We work very hard to maintain this sense of self and suffering results because we can never fully secure this fragile illusion since it is in conflict with reality. We become obsessed with this self which requires so much work to maintain. It always seems to be threatened by something which makes the world seem incredibly cruel and dangerous leading to self pity, our poor self can never seem to get a break and even when it does it doesn’t seem to last.
Self importance is the obsessive focus on ourselves as the center of our world. Preoccupation with ME, my concerns, my suffering, my pain, my desires, my relationships, my security etc etc etc. It never ends. Sometimes self importance manifest in gross ways such as narcissism, sociopathic behavior or obsessive-compulsive patterns. However it can also manifest in very subtle ways, ways which we may even mistake for freedom. Things such as personal growth, healing, working on and resolving our traumas. We’re constantly telling and re-telling our stories of ourselves, especially the painful traumatic ones often under the guise of sharing and healing. However how much sense does it really make to put so much work into healing something that ultimately does not exist in the first place. This is what a Buddhist teacher of mine once called “the endless self improvement project”. Her point was that the process of improving the self is never ending and quite literally unnecessary because the true nature of what we are is already perfect and complete as it is, it needs no healing or improvement. The part of us that needs healing and improvement cannot truly be healed since it does not exist and the part of us that is already perfect simply needs to be realized and embodied in the moment.
So the subtle trap of self importance is the endless focusing on healing and fixing and improving ourselves which is often mixed with self pity at how tough we’ve had it. How often do people compare their painful stories and how often do we feel like we’ve had it tougher than other people, that certainly comes up for me. The alternative to this is to see through this delusion and see that the nature of these stories are exactly what props up and reinforces the root of our suffering. The more energy we invest in them and the more we re-tell them no matter what the motivation, the more we separate ourselves from true freedom. Seeing through the stories and our self importance opens up the possibility of stepping into and embodying our true nature right here right now.
As warriors we can courageously and consistently pursue the ways in which we separate ourselves from our perfect freedom in this moment and thereby reclaim our personal power and transform our world. The warrior path for me is about taking full responsibility for my experience, internal and external. Its about dropping my stories and living my life to its potential right now. Its about letting go of self importance and self pity as well as pity for others and celebrating the Divine that we all share and can partake in together. Its about resting in silence and taking decisive action that emerges from that silence. Its about acting authentically regardless of what society or others dictate. Its a path of power and its a path of heart and its a path of freedom. Its a path which every single human being has the choice to take, or not.
Self-importance is our greatest enemy. Think about it–what weakens us is feeling offended by the deeds and misdeeds of our fellow men. Our self-importance requires that we spend most of our lives offended by someone. ~Carlos Castenada