Widening the Circle of Self-Interest

By March 8, 2019 spirit in matters

Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and to the whole of nature in its beauty.

~ Albert Einstein

I have been pondering the essential importance of our relationships with others and the world.

Though we may all be familiar with the concept that “no man is an island unto himself,” how many of us still act as if we are in the world alone? Our desires, opinions, and points-of-view come from our personal perspective as we look out on the world. From that individual perspective, we make decisions and take actions in our life.

Those decisions and actions in some way will inevitably impact and influence others, for good or ill.

How often do we consider the impact of our decisions on others before we act?

We would be wiser, more contented, and feel safer if, at the time we decide to act, we would also widen our circle of self-interest to include the well-being of others. Practically speaking, it could eliminate a great deal of conflict.

I believe the key paradigm shift that underlies the evolutionary thrust of our time is a growing awareness of our oneness with all life. It is a profound shift in self-concept when we meet the world as part of ourselves, as one with all. I observe that this is beginning to happen for some of us.

If my essence is one with your essence, it is actually in my own “self-interest” to consider how my actions will affect you when I make decisions. If I widen my definition of “self,” how would my life be more harmonious?

My actions that arise out of an awareness of being one with others will produce very different outcomes than actions driven by my ego-centric desires. What would that look like?

For one thing, I might come to realize that criticizing and blaming others is an act of self-destruction. People’s faults would be less a cause for blame and more an opportunity to exercise compassion for the parts of myself that are imperfect, but still growing.

We are all still in the process of growing more conscious and more compassionate. When you fall short of your aim, hopefully you have compassion for yourself. Also, when others fall short of your expectations, hopefully you can be compassionate to them because you are widening your definition of yourself.

I leave you with the thoughts of a prominent scientist who speaks from his own awareness of oneness.

A human being is a part of the whole called by us “Universe” – a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons close to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and to the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself part of the liberation and foundation for inner security.

~ Albert Einstein

May we all grow in widening our circle of self-interest and thus release ourselves from the prison of our “optical delusion.”