…If our attention and energies are directed only outwards towards our spiritual companions or towards society, it becomes clear sooner or later that even if we expend every ounce of energy right up until the last breath, there will still be more to do — the needs, the suffering of the world ‘out there’ is endless. We can never make it all all right.
If we try, as many of us have to do before the penny finally drops, the result is exhaustion, despair and disillusionment. Eventually we see that actually it’s a question of balance; we need to find a way of balancing our ‘inner’ work and our ‘outer’ work.
We begin to appreciate a basic paradox: that in order to be truly generous, truly of service to others, we actually need to be completely ‘self-centered.’
We need to be able to stay in touch with our own hearts, listening carefully to what they tell us, even while engaged in external activity or interaction. We need to remain attentive to our own needs and to really make sure that these are well taken care of, even if it means disappointing people, letting them down, not living up to the expectations they may have of us (or that we have of ourselves).This is not at all easy, with the conditioning most of us have:“Don’t be selfish.”
This reflection by Ajahn Candasiri is from the book, Freeing the Heart, pp. 29-30.