We don’t like to hear that the self we have nourished so carefully over the years and the decades is narrow and limited.
But it is.
When I calculate outcomes of events, it is mainly myself I am thinking about. In fact, I spend most of my day thinking about myself, filtering events through the lens of the me. Even when I am generous, I am very conscious that I am generous, I am selfless: a stunning paradox if there ever was one!
When someone makes a derogatory remark about me, why does it hurt? I have built up a series of emotions and pictures and narratives about myself and I don’t like that picture disturbed. The picture is generally about my abilities, my looks, my personality. I want a good picture for everyone to view. When the picture is punctured, pain ensues, as Krishnamurti often pointed out. But at the end of the day, it is just a picture.
It is in these senses that our sense of self limited.
We cannot now quickly move to a fantasy of selflessness. We cannot paint wonderful pictures of action and being without self. Instead, what we can honestly do is to watch the activities of the self in all the realms of daily living, with the utmost care and integrity. Without hope and without expectation.
Only then, perhaps, in a flash, the activities of the self become painfully clear. In that shock of recognition, of deep awareness, the self winks out of existence.
Only for the mind to grasp at it again. And our work begins anew.