“We are formed and molded by our thoughts. Those whose minds are shaped by selfless thoughts give joy when they speak or act. Joy follows them like a shadow that never leaves them.”
Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta, the founder of Buddhism
Selfless: Having little concern for one’s own interests
Acting and thinking selflessly is a great challenge. Trying to step outside oneself and think only of others when the daily habit of thought is a nearly continuous stream of “I” phrases. When was the last time you stepped up and said or did something with no regard for the consequences to yourself? It is an uncommon act, perhaps the very definition of courage. The selfless act of bravery occurs without thought. So how does one think selflessly?
It is hard to wrap one’s mind around this concept, at once so foreign and complex. To think selflessly means to give oneself no thought or consideration, to stretch the thought process so far beyond the norm. It is to imagine on a large scale, to solve problems far outside the personal, to put one’s abilities to use in dramatically new ways. I don’t claim to be able to give much direction as the concept of thinking selflessly is new, somewhat overwhelming and difficult, but I would like to explore how one reaches for such lofty goals.
Stillness may be a starting point. To slow to a stop the routine thoughts of daily living, to smother the “I’ thinking for a bit. In the stillness an openess may reveal itself and in that open fertile field, selfless thinking may be cultivated. If this sounds like meditation, it most likely is one way to find this open place. The practice of shifting one’s thinking so radically does require tools that may be equally foreign as the thoughts we are searching for. I am curious about the joy of selflessness, to encourage that joy to shadow me and become a piece of who I hope to become. The entire concept and process are new and mostly unknown to me; this will be a journey of exploration and experimentation, while I push beyond my limitations of thought and reach toward the selfless.