“The more selfless you become, the more you will find that you have a kind of freedom…” Swami Rama, Art of Joyful Living
What to do with this self. This little self with desires, passions, the need for recognition… all hijacking freedom by courting specific outcomes.
The trick to understanding this instruction is paradoxical. In order to surrender the trappings of self, we must first experience and know the self by living in the world. Our life is right here, right now, in this experience. So get honest about that. What are your hungers, longings, ambitions, regrets, or things you want to avoid? Yeah, especially those.
My self wants to be prepared with winter coming on. It wants successful events and enough work to provide the heat and soup. Uh-oh, we’re already on ambivalent ground. Successful? Enough? I’m already attaching outcomes to my duty. If I’m honest, my desire is for LOTS of people showing up, more clients, happy faces.
How do I let that go? How do I continue to create, be of service, AND be truly, honestly OK if just one person shows up? Or no one? Usually I just barrel onwards with shotgun prayers and a haphazard, spontaneous kind of hopeful. Is that freedom?
The only way I can understand this is that my actions, even if experienced by one person or no one, create some kind of ripple, some kind of positive effect. I don’t get to see it. The duty and action become a prayer.
Another paradox. Living in service to others means I am living in service to myself. This is a nuance of Ahimsa or “do no harm,” that living my purpose for me creates a better, more loving world. I really don’t need recognition if I create and act with love and joy, and there’s the growth towards freedom.
And that one person who showed up? Or the person who thought about showing up? Perhaps a ripple. Perhaps.