Why is it that every time you think something, and by that I mean every time you talk to yourself quietly inside your head, each time you start telling yourself something, it starts with I?
I’m hungry. I need to piss. I’m tired. I’m so late. I’m sick of this. I don’t feel like it. I love it. I’m going to get dressed now. I need to go poo. I’m going to do this later. I don’t want to go. I’m thirsty. I need to eat right now. I’m going to work. I’m going home. I hate this. I really want this. Why can’t I have this? Why is my life so hard?
Why do we do it? This run-on monologue about ourselves with ourselves, continuously commenting on everything we see, everything we do, all day, every day, always talking to ourselves about ourselves. And why in the world do we take all of it so seriously? All of these ridiculous, fabricated, distorted stories, impressions and judgments about everything and everyone; all these self-justifications we use to convince ourselves that we are totally entitled to be upset, to be angry, to be furious, to be sad, to be feeling sorry for ourselves, to be feeling that we have been wronged or that we deserve so much more than this: justifications, explanations, rationalisations for absolutely everything we want to believe, on and on, day after day, our whole life?
Fucking hell! Is this not completely insane?
What is this? Where does it come from? What it is, is an innate tendency developed to the extreme but unrecognised and therefore invisible to us: completely outside the scope of what we ever allow ourselves to see or to believe. It is a tendency that pushes us to define ourselves by what we do, where we come from, who our parents were, where they came from. To define ourselves by what we think, what we have studied, what we have learned, what we know, what we think we know, what we have read, what we believe and what we want to believe. To define ourselves by what we feel, what we want or would like to feel, what we have felt at various times, what we like and what we dislike, what we think we should like and dislike, what our friends like and dislike, and what our friends think we should like and dislike. To define ourselves by the clothes we wear, by the shoes we have, by the way we cut and style our hair, by what we think people think of us when they see us, by what we would like people to think when they see us. To define ourselves by how many people clicked the Like button on that shot of ourselves on the beach, or on that new profile picture we just put up.
Do we have to be so unboundedly self-absorbed, self-concerned, self-obsessed? Is this just how we are? Is there really such a thing as The Selfish Gene? Maybe there is. But maybe it is simply that we have become so masterful in ways to stimulating its expression that no alternative course is anywhere or at anytime apparent or even imaginable?
What are we? Are we beings of light? Are we part of a unified radiantly beautiful universal soul that has always existed and always will for eternity? Are we creatures of God, created in their image and carrying in us part of them in the form of a stainlessly pure and eternal soul? Could it be, just maybe, that all of these and the multitude of variations on these are just more stories that we tell ourselves, like all the other stories about everything else we know and think we know. More fabrications, more justifications, more rationalisation for this or that reason, for this or that purpose, all of this more lies, day after day, century after century, millennia after millennia?
What we are is this: upright walking animals from a single species most closely related to primates, with extremely well developed language skills and technologies of all kinds, that have evolved as preys for most of our history, have now come to dominate the planet in every way as The predator, but retained our deep psychological instincts as prey, and have, since the very beginnings of oral and pictorial expression, told ourselves and those around us stories to explain what we saw in the world, hardly anything of which we understood, and over the centuries and millennia developed more and more sophisticated ways to occupy, amuse, entertain, delude and lie to ourselves and others about what we are, what we think we are, what we fear we are, and what we would like to be.
Look around. Look at what we have done with this amazing planet, what we have done with its rivers and oceans, its mountains and plains, its air and atmosphere. Look at what we have done with its plants and animals, what we have done with the stuff we eat, the stuff we drink, the stuff we use to put on the skin, in the hair, in the dishwasher and washing machine, on the grass, in the gardens and in the parks. Look at the world that is manifest through Facebook or Twitter and its oceans of selfies, technically limitless and yet full to overflowing in appearance. What does this tell us about where things are going? How long can we go on in this way? When will we get to the end of the rope?
Do we have to continue in this way until we reach the end of the rope? Do we have to continue feeding into this tendency to self-absorbed, self-obsessed selfishness? Do we have to continue defining ourselves by all of these things around us, all this stuff, all these opinions, convictions, beliefs, likes and dislikes? Do we have to continue talking to ourselves about ourselves and others from the moment we wake to the moment we fade into sleep? We don’t. We can stop this right now. And we should. We have to. Don’t you think?
How do you start? It’s very simple. First: shut up and stop talking to yourself; whatever it is, just shut up, listen, and don’t comment. Second: stop taking yourself so fucking seriously. Stop thinking that what you want, what you like, what you don’t like, are all so important. They are not. You are not. You’re just like everyone else. Like 7 billion other people. Third: feel the breath, each breath, moving in and out of the body, and pay very close attention to the details of the sensations of the body in every moment and in everything that you do. Just this will transform you entirely. Guaranteed.