Selfishness, Egoism, Self-centeredness
To live a pure unselfish life, one must count nothing as one's own in the midst of abundance.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama
The common enemy of all religious disciplines is selfishness of mind.
For it is just this which causes ignorance, anger and passion, which are at
the root of all the troubles of the world.
Desires can be either negative or positive. If I desire to acquire something for myself--let's say I desire good health when I am ill, or a bowl of rice when I am hungry--such a desire is perfectly justified. The same applies to selfishness, which can be either negative or positive.
In most cases, asserting oneself only leads to disappointment, or to conflict with other egos that feel as exclusively about their existence as we do about our own. This is especially true when a strongly developed ego indulges in capricious or demanding behavior. The illusion of having a permanent self is a secret danger that stalks us all: "I want this," "I want that." It can even lead us to kill. Excessive selfishness leads to uncontrollable perversions, which always end badly. But on the other hand, a firm confident sense of self can be a very positive element. Without a strong sense of self, that is, of one's skills, potential, and convictions, nobody can take on significant responsibilities. Responsibility requires true self-confidence. How could a mother without hands save her child from the river?
The Dalai Lama's Little Book of Inner Peace
Relaxation involves a kind of awareness which reverses the normal tendency that
we have. Because, as we have seen, this ordinary sense of self that we have
lacks inherent self existence, it has to keep constructing itself and that requires
a particular kind of effort. The ego's root feeling is that if I do not hold
myself together there will be a falling apart into something chaotic and difficult.
So there is anxiety, an energetic anxiety which is located in the body, in the
whole energetic system of the body and interpersonal turbulence reminds us again
and again "If I don't keep it together, I will get in trouble." The
belief in reincarnation indicates that for many lifetimes we have been caught
up in this anxiety, this nervous contraction which is holding our ordinary grasping
sense of self in place.
From Being Right Here: A Dzogchen Treasure Text of Nuden Dorje entitled
'The Mirror of Clear Meaning,' with commentary by James Low
Ego is the problem. Sometimes ego is very spoiled, like a child who is constantly throwing tantrums. Sometimes ego doesn't accept where we are. Sometimes ego doesn't accept who we are. Sometimes ego doesn't accept the way things are without any real complaint. So what do we do? There is nothing that we can do. Sometimes ego doesn't accept the fact that the sky is blue but there is nothing that we can do. You see. Sometimes ego doesn't accept that we are living on a planet that is permeated with natural disasters, earthquakes, floods, and other catastrophes. All we can do is accept that and learn how to surrender to the flow of all events.
Anam Thubten, No Self, No Problem
The real source of my suffering is self-centeredness: my car, my possession, my well-being. Without the self-centeredness, the suffering would not arise.
B. Alan Wallace, The Seven-Point Mind Training
December 11, 2016