Is Egoism Really So Bad?

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Is Egoism Really So Bad?

Postby Adumbra » Sat Feb 25, 2012 1:34 pm

I have sometimes been accused in my life of being vain and arrogant and I must admit that it is true. I do feel very highly of myself. However, one thing I try to avoid is degrading others. It seems to me that someone who is truly and utterly convinced of their greatness should feel no need to slander and insult others or persecute those whom they consider to be lesser beings. After all, everything in this world has its place; even the lowly earth worm enrichs the soil. This is how I feel about most people. Not to say that I see them as worms, but I don't despise them just because they are inferior to me in many respects and I'm also gracious enough to acknowledge those few people who I see as superior to myself in every respect (and I'm envious enough to seek to surpass them). Contempt I reserve for the child who uses a magnifying glass to set ants on fire because the only way he can feel powerful is by killing and torturing tiny beings who stand no chance of defending themselves.

I know Buddhism is dead-set against pride and egoism, as are most religions. But to me pride need not be a bad thing and in fact can be beneficial. Proud people are not easily influenced by cults or mass political movements like Nazism. Since they see clearly that no leader or self-proclaimed prophet could be inherently wiser than them, they feel no need to be led or seek answers from such posers. It was my egoism as a teen and young adult which prevented me from becoming a drug addict, since I was simply too proud to allow myself to be enslaved by a pill and the pushers who sold it. It is my egoism right now which renders me immune to all criticism and peer pressure, and taunts. I've been baited before, called a coward, by someone who thought an arrogant person like me could be easily provoked into fighting them. But instead of punching him in the face I just kept walking without even giving him a glance. As far as I'm concerned, if he wishes to see what a coward I am he can always stop talking and try to attack me.

So is egoism always such a negative personality trait?
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Re: Is Egoism Really So Bad?

Postby MrDistracted » Sat Feb 25, 2012 1:57 pm

The trouble with egoism is that in reality we are all much greater than we tend to imagine. And we are equal in that.
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Re: Is Egoism Really So Bad?

Postby justsit » Sat Feb 25, 2012 3:13 pm

Adumbra wrote: I do feel very highly of myself.

What is this self you admire so much?
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Re: Is Egoism Really So Bad?

Postby Jesse » Sat Feb 25, 2012 9:42 pm

Typical mindset younger people take up, give it time. You will see it's flaws and misdirection.
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Re: Is Egoism Really So Bad?

Postby Anders » Sat Feb 25, 2012 11:21 pm

It's not that egoism is necessarily bad. I feel that as long as one abides by the principles of Ahimsa (harmlessness) in thought, speech and deeds, then you are basically in the clear on the 'bad' department, morally speaking at least. That said, there are many degrees of refinement to ahimsa and it is not always easy.

I might suggest that while egoism is not so bad, giving of yourself to others and humbling oneself in such service ennobles and gladdens the mind, and makes itself greater, in ways self-centered thoughts and actions simply can not hope to emulate. But that is a personal choice of what one wishes out of life. Some people want money and power, some opt for Buddhism (and some for personal Buddhism, others for selfless Buddhism). Some try not falling between two stools by shooting for both. I hope whatever way anyone pursues their happiness works out. I've seen people who successfully cultivated money and power and ended up deciding it wasn't all it was made out to be. I don't think I've ever met someone who successfully cultivated wisdom and compassion and found it lacking at the end of the day.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra
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Re: Is Egoism Really So Bad?

Postby AdmiralJim » Sun Feb 26, 2012 12:12 am

Everyone thinks like this - at least you admit it.
I don't know where we are going but it will be nice when we get there
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Re: Is Egoism Really So Bad?

Postby wisdom » Sun Feb 26, 2012 8:16 am

The higher we build the walls of ego to protect ourselves from what we don't want to see about ourselves, the harder the fall is going to be when the ego finally comes crashing down. Criticism from our peers, what people think of us, these things don't matter in the slightest. Its only our ego that convinces us that they do. The thought of our superiority is a definite sign that we have many flaws and weaknesses we are trying not to look at. Ironically, those flaws and weaknesses only exist *within* the ego. When the ego is destroyed, all the things we "hate" about ourselves is also destroyed, because at that point we realize our essential nature, perceive emptiness, and would never hate that which we learn we truly are. So both the thought that we are superior or inferior to others is based in ego.

So the ego is bad, but most of us will have to live with it for quite a long time.
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Re: Is Egoism Really So Bad?

Postby gyougan » Sun Feb 26, 2012 9:18 am

Adumbra, why do you think you are so cool?
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Re: Is Egoism Really So Bad?

Postby Adamantine » Sun Feb 26, 2012 11:29 am

I recalled hearing or reading the Dalai Lama teaching something like this, then searched and found this quote online-- I couldn't check the source though so I hope it's accurate:

It is important to aspire to bring about the well-being of others and to develop the aspiration so that it becomes stronger and stronger. This is not attachment, because it is not mixed with afflictive emotions. The stronger aspiration arises from detachment.

a strong ego is needed, but without becoming egotistical. You need a strong will to achieve the good. To make a wish that you become able to help all beings throughout space, you need a strong self; with a weak self such an intervention is impossible. This kind of desire is reasonable and is not attachment.”

Excerpt from “How to Expand LOVE”, pg. 108- 109.
Contentment is the ultimate wealth;
Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha
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Re: Is Egoism Really So Bad?

Postby Adumbra » Sun Feb 26, 2012 12:00 pm

Adumbra, why do you think you are so cool?


I've asked myself that same question and have never been able to come to a satisfactory answer until very recently. There are certainly many people throughout history who have done much cooler things than me. But then it hit me: THAT is what makes me so cool: that I don't need a reason to validate my claim to coolness. Nothing I could do, not even taking over the world, could ever make me feel more badass and awesome than I already do. Taking over the world would certainly convince OTHERS of my greatness, but it would have no effect my own self-appraisal since I already knew all along that I had it in me.

What I'm getting at is that true, all-consuming megalomania needs no justification. Genuine self-love is a priori, like an axiom it is self-evident to the one who feels it and requires no proof to sustain it. So called narcissism, as defined by the DSM, is a misnomer. No one who was truly convinced of their own greatness would routinely put down others in order to boost their own self-confidence.

I am awesome, not because of anything I've DONE, but simply because I AM. This is circular reasoning, but that's only because my conviction isn't based on reason, but feeling. Self-love is a feeling, not a logical syllogism or hypothesis which requires evidence to support it. It is the effort to prove to oneself and others that one is cool and in control which produces much of the misery on this planet. From the insanity of our evil Rothschild engineered banking system to the Nazi holocaust: it all boils down to proving I am better than the stupid masses/jews/capitalist pigs by grinding their faces into the ground with my shiny, well polished black boot and laughing at their pain.

To make a wish that you become able to help all beings throughout space, you need a strong self; with a weak self such an intervention is impossible. This kind of desire is reasonable and is not attachment.


That is a very surprising quote coming from the Dalai Lama. I agree.
Last edited by Adumbra on Sun Feb 26, 2012 12:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Is Egoism Really So Bad?

Postby Anders » Sun Feb 26, 2012 12:03 pm

If you are cool a prioiri, isn't it a bit of a logical fallacy that there should be any 'lesser' people that you could be superior to in your world view? Would they not share in the same a priori greatness?
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

--- Gandavyuha Sutra
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Re: Is Egoism Really So Bad?

Postby Adumbra » Sun Feb 26, 2012 12:05 pm

If you are cool a prioiri, isn't it a bit of a logical fallacy that there should be any 'lesser' people that you could be superior to in your world view? Would they not share in the same a priori greatness?


Yes, they would if only they could. But they won't. Most people sell themselves short which results in a lot of wasted potential. Sad, but that's the way it is.
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Re: Is Egoism Really So Bad?

Postby MrDistracted » Sun Feb 26, 2012 12:36 pm

One can have a strong personality, which I interpret the Dalai Lama to be saying that one needs, but still understand that it's all empty.

I've met many people with low esteem who have a lot of pride, and I've met overbearingly confident people who actually don't have much pride at all.

Adumbra, looking at your photo, you have a madcap Mancunian doppelganger; Ian Brown out of the Stone Roses. Whether that deflates or inflates your ego, I don't know :smile:
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Re: Is Egoism Really So Bad?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sun Feb 26, 2012 1:07 pm

Well, grasping to a sense of self is merely the cause of samsara, so what could possibly be bad about it? Right?
:namaste:
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Is Egoism Really So Bad?

Postby justsit » Sun Feb 26, 2012 1:59 pm

This ^
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Re: Is Egoism Really So Bad?

Postby justsit » Sun Feb 26, 2012 2:40 pm

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Re: Is Egoism Really So Bad?

Postby MrDistracted » Sun Feb 26, 2012 2:51 pm

And adore you we did, Ian...and those befuddled, shuffling dance moves you used to bust.
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Re: Is Egoism Really So Bad?

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sun Feb 26, 2012 3:19 pm

"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Is Egoism Really So Bad?

Postby MrDistracted » Sun Feb 26, 2012 3:26 pm

The cloning appears to be going well, professor.
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Re: Is Egoism Really So Bad?

Postby Nemo » Sun Feb 26, 2012 3:50 pm

Thinking of oneself as being better than others. Self cherishing. How could that possibly go wrong?

Where to even start. Self cherishing is the root of all suffering. Thinking of others more than yourself is the first step on the path to enlightenment. Self cherishing is your primary enemy, it is the most destructive form of demonic possession. Tonglen is the most direct and easily understood way to start undoing the damage this habit has done over the aeons. It won't be "fun" as this habit is always trying to reassert itself. The fact that your mind fights it shows you where your priorities really are.

My old Master's internalized teaching style says obviously this person needs to be insulted.
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