Selfishness [8] – Arising of selfishness

The desires that enter into the constitution of the personal ego are either good or bad. Bad desires are ordinarily referred to as forms of selfishness, and good desires are referred to as forms of selflessness. However, there is no hard-and-fast line dividing selfishness from selflessness. Both move in the domain of duality; and from the ultimate point of view that transcends the opposites of good and bad, the distinction between selfishness and selflessness is chiefly one of range.

Selfishness and selflessness are two phases of the life of the personal ego, and these two phases are continuous with each other.

Selfishness arises when all the desires are centered around the narrow individuality. Selflessness arises when this crude organization of desires suffers disintegration and there is a general dispersing of desires, with the result that they cover a much wider sphere. Selfishness is the narrowing down of interests to a limited field; selflessness is the extension of interests over a wide field. To put it paradoxically, selfishness is a restricted form of selflessness, and selflessness is the drawing out of selfishness into a wide sphere of activity.

-Discourses, 7th Ed, p 13


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