Modern Bodhisattva’s Way of Life: Looking in the mirror of our self-importance

(7.56) Anyone who is governed by the view of self-importance
Is under the influence of delusion, not self-confidence.
Such a person has succumbed to the enemy of the self-important view,
Whereas one with self-confidence has not.

(7.57) Those who are inflated by the deluded view of self-importance
Will be reborn in the lower realms;
And, if they later take rebirth in a human form,
They will be poor and miserable, like slaves eating others’ food.

(7.58) Stupid, ugly, and feeble, they will be despised by everyone.
So-called “tough people” who are puffed up with pride
Are also counted among the self-important –
Who could be more pathetic than they are?

(7.59) By contrast, whoever develops the self-confidence to conquer the enemy of the self-important view
Is a self-confident one who is a true conquering hero;
And whoever completely eradicates the enemy of the self-important view
Will be able to fulfil the temporary wishes of living beings and bestow upon them the fruit of enlightenment.

We need to make a distinction between self-cherishing, self-importance, and self-confidence.  Self-cherishing is the mind that thinks that our happiness is supremely important.  We think that only our happiness matters, and since our happiness is really important what happens to us is really important.

Self-importance is self-cherishing with pride.  We have an exaggerated and exalted view of ourselves as being somebody special and important.  When we have self-importance, we feel like we deserve recognition for how wonderful we are, and when others don’t give us the recognition we think we deserve, we feel easily slighted.  We demand a certain respect from others and feel perfectly justified in getting angry with people when they do not provide it.  Self-importance can also take the form of a feeling that the whole world needs us, but we do not need them. We can accomplish things well, we can look after ourselves, our world, and we feel others need us rather than we need them.  We influence rather than are influenced. Others listen to us, we don’t need to listen to them.  An extreme example of this is so-called “tough people,” who are not only self-important, but they also make a big show of it all.  They make sure that everyone knows they are there and how special and important they are.

Self-confidence, in contrast, makes a distinction between our contaminated aggregates and our true self.  We are completely humble with respect to our contaminated aggregates.  We realize that they are broken and useless.  To have confidence in our contaminated aggregates is pride.  Anytime we think anything good about our contaminated aggregates, it is pride.  We can look at Geshe-la.  There is nobody more confident than he is, but he is not in the slightest bit proud.  But we can be completely confident with respect to our true self.  We realize that by nature we are the Spiritual Guide, and anything he can do, we have the potential to do.

If we have self-importance, we don’t really take notice of anyone else, to some extent even our spiritual guide.  As a result, we gradually lose everything.  There is a story Geshe-la gives of a disciple who took rebirth as a God, and the spiritual guide went to try help him in the god realm, but the former disciple just ignored him because he was so busy enjoying his godly delights.  We see this also with people who rise to important positions in society.  They no longer have time for “the little people.”  Those who strongly have this view of self-importance often only have self-reliance.  For them, they are the Guru, and they don’t need anybody else

If we think carefully with our wisdom, we realize that we have accomplished nothing on our own and everything in dependence upon others.  The meditation on the kindness of others reveals how everything comes from others.  We can also consider that any good fortune that ripens does so as a result of good karma.  How were we able to create good karma?  Through the blessings of the enlightened beings.  We need others for anything good.

In life we have many things that we call our own.  Like our job, our house, our children, and our friends.  Thinking “mine” with respect to things just reinforces our feeling of self-importance.  A Bodhisattva who has perfected the perfection of giving has no feeling of anything being theirs.  We should give everything we have away right now, so that we no longer consider anything to be our own.  Some things we can directly give away, other things we retain possession of, but now ownership.  We feel our things belong to others and we are using them for their benefit.

One of the best ways of doing this is to offer everything to the Spiritual Guide or to Dorje Shugden.  To the Spiritual Guide, we feel like all the beings in our life are Geshe-la’s children that we are taking care of.  To Dorje Shugden, we offer everything to him so that he can use it for our spiritual practice and that of others.  We may fear offering everything in this way, but it is only our self-cherishing that fears this.  The guru will use things in the way that is in fact most beneficial for us.  It is our self-cherishing that will use things in a way that is the most destructive for us.

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