Excerpt About Selflessness

The Notion of Service

It is not easy to be free from the constraints of the self—it comes at us from so many directions and in so many areas of life. Some of the angles are quite subtle, as we are seeing with selfless motivation. Selflessness is good and signifies that we are moving toward reality, but the idea or concept of any motivation already has in it an appropriation, which means that the self is there and asserting itself in some subtle way. The discovery of the self in the midst of selflessness can be challenging for us. We might feel the challenge as if it’s coming from left field, in a way that we haven’t anticipated. We might be surprised. “I didn’t know the self was there. I thought I was being selfless all this time because I served others. I’m so sure service is selfless.” Although we might not like it, the concept of service is pervaded by the concept of self. The notion of service is good, and very useful, but it approximates how reality works. Realization must go beyond approximations in order for it to deepen itself, to go to a deeper realization. Living our realization, which is what we are working with, means establishing realization in life. You see, even that language, the way I’m speaking about it, is not completely accurate. I catch myself—the language smacks of the self. When I say “establishing realization,” who is going to establish what, and for whom? We need to be careful because we use those words to mean something that is useful, but if we reify those expressions, we get ourselves in trouble again. We create another obstacle to the full expression of the enlightenment drive.

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