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Super Late today…So anyway, Kon Mari is relaxing her grip on her house for the sake of her children, this woman made a bargain with a god she “didn’t believe in” and it seemed to turn out fine, and this person discovered that thinking about other people is actually a form of self-care. It’s so hard to know even where to begin. Let’s start with the selfishness, for that is the pin upon which the world turns:

So that was the psychic baggage I carried into my interview with the Dalai Lama. During our encounter, however, I was reminded that His Holiness had a theory that elegantly exposed the false binary between selfishness and selflessness. He called it “wise selfishness.” We all have an inborn penchant for self-interest. It is natural, and nothing to be ashamed of. But, he said, a truly enlightened self-interest also means recognizing that acting in generous and altruistic ways makes you happier than solely being out for yourself does. The concept of wise selfishness shows that the line between self-interest and other-interest is porous. Adam Grant, an organizational psychologist with the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, has an apt term for the blending of selfless and selfish: otherish.

An inborn penchant for self-interest is natural–that’s true–but not a good way. More in the Mrs. Flushpool sense of being”in the natural.” A person ought feel a certain sense of shame when discovered to be trying to justify something as godless as “enlightened self-interest.” That, for those who didn’t click on the link, is where you are nice to people, “altruistic” if you will, as a better way to love yourself.

The Dalai Lama, as I have read in other places, is a real hoot:

The Dalai Lama told me, “Thinking in a more compassionate way is the best way to fulfill your own interests.” He added that his own practice was to think about benefiting other people as much as possible. “The result? I get benefit!” he exclaimed, after which he stuck out his tongue at me and issued one of his trademark belly laughs. Then, he got serious. “Altruism does not mean you completely forget your own interests — no!” he said, with a graceful yet dismissive flick of his wrist. This was exactly what I needed to hear, given my penchant for self-criticism. Wise selfishness doesn’t mean I can’t pursue my own personal ambitions. Around 2,600 years ago, the Buddha himself spoke at length about what constituted a “right livelihood,” one that does not harm other beings, and this approach did not preclude material success; some of the Buddha’s most loyal followers were wealthy merchants.

This is just like our Lord Jesus who said something like, ‘whoever would save his life should just blend a little bit of self-care with a vague intention to text a friend whenever he gets around to it.’ By “save” who even knows what the Lord might mean. It probably isn’t from something like actual death, where the heart stops beating and the lungs fall silent, and the breath is gone and the family gathers mournfully for a while, and the body returns to the dust, and everyone who hasn’t died yet gets back to whatever they were doing before. One by one, everyone does die, but the living manage to push that fact to the margins. And that’s as it should be, because the human body is really amazing and can basically heal itself with the power of positive feelings (from the Guardian):

Most of all, she says, she has “a growing admiration and respect for my amazing body”. She uses the cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) that she practised when working with people with addictions to help herself. “Instead of feeling vulnerable, I now feel my body is strong and resilient – and something to be admired,” she says. “My body is doing a grand job. In her addiction work, Boulay had been fascinated by “the principle of natural recovery”, when people get better by themselves. Sometimes, she says, a life event can “tip the balance”. Is that how her relationship with her body changed too? “Absolutely,” she says. “Because it wasn’t a diet or anything. It was just the importance of keeping fit so I could … saying ‘keep alive’ is really dramatic.

I’m all for body positivity–what’s the alternative? hating it all the time? Most of us have tried that and it is as futile as trying to keep a tidy house–but really, a certain amount of negative feelings about your body are appropriate. That is because, as we’ve just noticed, even if it’s healed for a while, it will die. And then what? Being absorbed into the Universe or whatever? Does it even matter?

I mean, of course it matters. That’s what the cleaning and CBT and pathetic efforts at altruism are for. It’s because everyone knows, however much they try to suppress it, that there is a reckoning after this. You die…and then you have to meet the person who made you. And what are you going to say? My house was clean when I died? I did a lot of nice things for some people? The Dalai Lama said I was fine?

It’s easoer to hear what Jesus says about taking up your cross as a way of saving your own life as the kind of thing the Dalai Lama is saying–an act of self-preservation. “Die” to yourself as a sort of magical bargain between you and God or the Universe or Whoever. And, it’s not totally wrong to think of it that way–if you don’t look to Jesus your life won’t be preserved. But that is only the first, faltering step. What you discover when you give up your life to Jesus is not just a new a better kind of knowledge of yourself–one that goes on forever–but more wonderfully, to be known by God, and even more than that, to know him. Self-care is really an isolating box of unrighteousness, the kind of caring for the self that doesn’t really preserve anything. Better to be cared for by a God who can be known, who reveals himself to you, who speaks to you in strange scriptural ways.

Have a nice day!

Photo by Sébastien Goldberg on Unsplash

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