The following excerpt is from a samvaad (dialogue) session with Acharya Prashant.
Questioner : A month back I asked a question on ‘numbness’, and how it affects my life. You gave me a good lesson on self-centeredness, and explained that if I am not able to do much for myself, then I should start working for others so totally, that I forget myself.
There is one thing that I do not understand. ‘I’, the self-centered one, knows only self-centered action. If that is the starting point for helping others, then won’t that too turn out as subtle selfishness?
Acharya Prashant: It’s okay.
It is not the ‘self-centeredness’ that is problematic, misplaced ‘self-centeredness’ is problematic, incomplete ‘self-centeredness’ is problematic.
When you say that you are being ‘self-centered’, what is it that you are centered on? That which you are as ‘the self’ do you know it? Know it, and then be ‘self-centered’.
It is okay. No problem.
In fact, there is actually no option but to be ‘self-centered’.
Whatever man does, he would always be ‘self-centered’. Doesn’t matter whether you are the lowly looter, or the highest Saint — both are ‘self-centered’. It is just that one knows the self, and the other does not.
One operates with a vague conception of the self, the other one sits firmly, with total clarity of the self.
Nevertheless, ‘self-centeredness’ is, common amongst the two.
So, look at your tendencies, see what is it that you want. If by ‘self-centeredness’, you mean the common ‘selfishness’, try being selfish, and see whether it fulfills you. Why should we blindly, or moralistically declare that ‘selfishness’ is bad? Let’s give ‘selfishness’ a chance — a fair chance.
If ‘selfishness’ can fulfill you, go ahead. If not ‘selfishness’, what is it then that would work for you? Surely, not self-lessness.
If ‘selfishness’ doesn’t work for you, then go for deeper ‘selfishness’ — a deeper understanding of the ‘self’.
Work in your own self-interest, but know at least what the interests of the ‘self’ are.
Watch the full video here.