If we actually focused on our self
–the real one —
we’d achieve unlimited joy.
I pick up the stainless steel bowl of kitchen scraps and head out of the house onto the sandy road until I reach the neighbors fenced yard with the goats. “Hare Krishna guys,” I call. Three males, two females, and two adorable, white and brown billies come running. Cascading from the bowl falls rice, the ends of asparagus, zucchini, carrots and sweet potato and beet shavings. The largest male, who has full horns, already has his head down butting all the other goats—hard. This goat annoys me. He’s the new kid on the block. The other goat king died a few weeks ago. Now this one has taken his spot.
Of course, goats aren’t the only ones with the me-first complex. Us humans come up with sophisticated approaches to biological and psychological self preservation.
The 8th Annual Tapping World Summit has commenced and I’ve listened to some of the interactive lectures. Tapping is a simple, user-friendly self-help tool that reduces or removes anxiety, depression, PTSD, phobias and more. Since Nick and Jessica Ortner made tapping popular, quite a number of therapists and coaches have added the technique to their tool box because it works.
The best part is that individuals can use it all by themselves with remarkable results.
Day before yesterday, Cheryl Richardson spoke about internal family systems (IFS) therapy and ingeniously coupled IFS with tapping. Good session, and it was fun, too. Some presenters tapped on “I come first,” “I easily say no,” “I’m most important” to strengthen these statements as beliefs we ought to embody.
Self-preservation is necessary. I, too, have given and given and then gone dry or numb. We need balance and mental health to survive. But psychological self protection may not be the cure for what ails us.
The first time a group of these me-first phrases came up I substituted my own words. The second time me-first came up, I encountered resistance. The third time a set of me-first phrases were called upon, I became down-right annoyed. Then a desire understand surfaced.
A vision emerged. I saw many of us breathing exhaust fumes. My sympathy rose. Choking from lack of oxygen because of life’s supersonic speeds, we’re forced to focus on self preservation because we need air. We have trouble giving–a higher way of being–because we’re so depleted. Was my insight superficial?
Is it only the speed at which life races that suffocates us? Or do we lack something fundamental? It seemed to me a more profound need was showing up.
Me-first is a biological-psychological need. But we also have a you-first existential (metaphysical) need. As a spiritual being, we are givers and lovers. Our spirit expands when we give and contracts when we take. Intuitively knowing this, and sometimes experiencing it, we hanker after a full expansion of consciousness because we sense that everything is possible in spirit.
“I come first,” or “I’m most important,” are truisms because we are spiritual beings. However, these are partial truths. If we follow the thread of this partial truth it guides us to a whole, powerful, enlightening truth.
I sensed that the me-first statements were trying to bring forth a love for our Self–the truly lovable object. The mind-body apparatus is not us. Inert matter is not lovable. By hearing sacred texts, associating with sacred souls, and engaging in spiritual practice, we come to understand this basic, but fundamentally crucial aspect of spiritual knowledge:
We have nothing to do with . . . , we have nothing to do with . . . , we have nothing to do with the mind-body. We, us, our Self are wholly separate and different from our mind-body, which is an inert material interface into the world of matter.
When we finally understand the truth of our existential situation, we come to see everyone as equal to us, as an extension of ourselves in the sense that they, too, are spiritual beings. When using our supra-mundane eyes we see everyone as spirit. Then something miraculous happens: the appearances of differences between all of us melt. Disappear. Forever gone.
You and are I one on the spiritual platform. We have the same value, the same need. We need love. We need to give and receive pure love, not a shadow version of love we experience in this world. When we experience our likeness, our oneness, we notice we also share the experience of much suffering. We each face many difficulties, trials, and pain. Now our real, irrevocable compassion is born, and thus we move toward becoming super humans.
We need compassion and the world needs compassion. Not in a conventional way, but in a deep existential way.
Compassion is the highest emotional expression in the material world. The bhakti texts describe compassion as a reflected shadow of pure spiritual love. Beyond compassion is wise-love, pure spiritual love, which is our greatest need. Our deepest necessity is fulfilled through wise-love for our Self, others, and the Supreme. Wise-love can only be cultivated once real compassion takes a permanent place in our hearts.
Me-first circumscribes the full expression of compassion. Me-first contracts the Self’s possibilities; steals our full potential.
I understand the intentions of the good-hearted presenters of the tapping summit. Individuals need to set healthy boundaries; we have to realistically assess our capacity of giving care to avoid burnout, etc. But the troubles associated with lack of self-care are not dispensed with by invoking a me-first mentality. Rather, we cannot achieve enduring balance and wholeness without being directly in touch with spirit.
Taking care to distinguish between our biological, psychological (material), and metaphysical (spiritual) needs, we do well to bow and say, You first.
Humans are the only species who can come to the you-first platform. Ironically, me-first makes us unhappy, a you-first mood increases our happiness. Do an experiment. Are you depressed or anxious? Offer some volunteer service to the community or give someone care or assistance without expectation of return. Then notice how you feel. You will feel enriched, more whole, more satisfied.
When we understand we are a spiritual being, then we can transform me-first into you-first without any harm to ourselves by immersing in practices that nourish the Self.
We are givers and lovers. Practicing our natural tendencies fills our inner being with meaning and value. Giving bountifully is our natural, powerful state.
Tapping is like attentively cleaning our cherished pet’s cage. The cage surely requires cleaning. But should we focus on cleaning and forget to offer our pet water and food it will languish and eventually die!
Our current confusion about our true identity leads us to existential starvation. Therefore we’re forever seeking the next experience, career, money, things, new relationship, or trip to a new destination. We have not yet arrived home to the Self. The Self is spirit; spirit is not animated by a matter.
The Self, who temporarily sits in the body, is a unit of being, knowing, and loving. In other words, we are what we are searching for. Look within! the Upanishads implore us.
We are eternally lovable and loving. Expressing compassion while living life as a meditation we reach love as a state of being–the Self’s ultimate ideal, and deepest need.
Let’s tap to awaken the genuine Self.
Here’s a tapping meditation, “I am not this body. I am not this mind. I am not these thoughts. I am not these emotions. Suffering is not me. I am an eternal, spiritual being. I don’t need things. I need love. I want pure love. I want to give and receive wise-love, spiritual love. I accept these truths and allow them to fully blossom in my heart. Now wealthy with love, I am capable of giving unconditional love to my Self, others, and my divine Beloved.”
What blocks will be removed? What power will we access? What happiness is ours when we release the Self from its slumber!