Humanity’s biggest problem is self-loathing. At least, that’s
a symptom of our biggest problem.
We have a tendency to not view ourselves in the highest light accessible to us. In fact, sometimes some of us go so far as to view ourselves in pure darkness. We think ourselves as the dumbest, dirtiest, most despicable wads of scum to ever exist in all of existence.
Superiority = Inferiority
Do you regard the whole of humanity in the same way that you regard yourself? Do you regard most people as being superior to you? Do you regard most people as being inferior? Do you alternate between both views, sometimes seeing most others as superior, other times as inferior?
When you see others as inferior to you, what are your thoughts about them? That they are stupid, or evil, perhaps? And when you see others as superior to you, what are your thoughts about yourself? That you are stupid, or evil, perhaps?
Superiority and inferiority are two sides of the same coin. They’re just two ways of looking at the same picture. Whatever you think about yourself, you’re bound to think about everyone else. Likewise, whatever you think of everyone else, you’re bound to think of yourself.
This mechanism of the one (i.e. you) and the whole (i.e. humanity) being the same can work against us, if we think lowly of either the one or the whole. At the same time, this is great news, because this same mechanism can work tremendously in our favor.
It’s tough to go genuinely go partway. It might look like some people do, but they actually don’t. They can’t. You think people who hate certain segments of the population simultaneously love themselves unconditionally? Of course they don’t. That isn’t possible. They might call themselves “Supremacists,” but that doesn’t stop the hatred they harbor from poisoning themselves. That doesn’t stop the superiority they perceive from at times being experienced as inferiority. Inferiority and superiority are inseparable.
All for One, One for All
The point is, I can’t love myself fully unless I love everyone and everything else fully—and vice versa. The same is true of you.
As such, it makes sense to want for everyone else what you want for yourself; and, simultaneously, to want for yourself what you want for everyone else. Likewise, it is most effective to regard yourself as highly as you can—and, simultaneously, to regard everyone else as highly as you can.
Desiring only for yourself isn’t particularly effective. That’s not to say that you won’t realize such desires, but your motivation may be weak; and, even if you get what you want you might find it’s not really what you wanted. It might give you a brief hit of fleeting gratification, followed by a sense of confusion and emptiness. Or, you might not feel bad per se, but you still start to wonder whether life is actually more expansive and meaningful than all this.
Likewise, it’s hard to desire for others what you don’t desire for yourself. This is quite easy to see when you think about it. I don’t want to burn up in a fire or have a heart attack or starve to death. I don’t want that to happen to the guy sitting behind me, either. And I don’t want that to happen to you, or to anyone else. Why would I? It wouldn’t do anything for me. I don’t see what’s desirable in any of it. I don’t want it for me, and I don’t want it for you, either. It’s simple.
On the other hand, I do want to experience and express my highest idea about who I really am. I do want to experience love. I do want to share my highest truths. I do want to experience abundance in all aspects of my life. Simultaneously, I want all of this for you, too. And everyone else.
When I add those last two sentences to my desires- that I want this for everyone else, too- those desires become far more powerful. They make more sense to me, and I feel more motivated to act on them.
Stockpiling money and food all for myself would be boring. Centering my life around becoming the greatest athlete that I can be would be hollow.
However, when I start to desire these things- and more- for everyone, they become more exciting. The core desire I can share with everyone may not be any specific desire- plenty of people don’t care to be athletes- but I can share the general desire that everyone is able to meet their desires.
Being the only person on Earth who can realize her desires isn’t as fun as everyone on Earth being able to realize their desires. I want to be a joyful person surrounded by other joyful people—not a joyful person surrounded by depressed, confused people. I could do my best to take the latter in stride, but the former sounds preferable.
The Central Desire
Here’s the key. I believe the central desire we all have is, as I wrote several paragraphs ago, to experience and express our highest idea about who we really are.
Anytime you do anything, what you roughly are trying to do is to feel good. Whenever you declare that you desire anything, your hope is that realizing this desire will not only make you feel good, but also feel good about yourself. That doesn’t mean you know or even expect that it will make you feel good and good about yourself, but part of you hopes it will. Part of you hopes that realizing this desire will fulfill your central desire; that is, “feeling good about yourself” means the same as, “experiencing and expressing your highest idea about who you are.”
When you want that shirt, that piece of food, that career, that date, you hope that you will feel great and feel great in it. You’ll feel great about yourself in that shirt, with that food in your belly, working at that job or on that business, and/or spending time with that person.
Whatever you may desire, all of your desires are connected to your idea about who you are. This means that what you desire reflects your idea about who you are.
Right now I desire to write, complete, and share this article. If my idea about myself was that I was incredibly stupid and inferior to every other person on Earth, I either wouldn’t want this, wouldn’t permit myself to want this, or I would be unable to recognize this desire within myself. Such an idea about myself would simply be out of alignment with such a desire. I wouldn’t think myself worthy or able of doing such a thing.
On the other hand, whenever I have believed that I am incredibly stupid and worthless (which I can’t say I do right now), my desires have simultaneously been rather mediocre. At its best, an idea like that about myself may lead me to desire to be useful to others, but not really in a specific way, and the desire largely arises from guilt. At its worst, an idea like that may lead me to desire for my life to end. On average, the idea of myself being incredibly stupid and worthless leads me to desire lots of comfort food and other distractions, along with accomplishing at least one thing- perhaps a good run- during the course of a day.
Because your central desire is to experience and express your highest idea about who you really are, your other desires can be no higher than, indeed, your highest idea about who you really are.
Elevating Our Self-Concept
That’s the reason that humanity’s biggest problem is self-loathing: our desires can be no higher than our highest idea about ourselves, and generally we are not going to act outside the realm of what we perceive ourselves to desire.
As such, if it is our idea that it is in the nature of humans to be greedy, destructive, pleasure-seeking, short-sighted, and evil, we will have desires that reflect that idea; and, in turn, we will act in accordance with those desires. We’ll find ourselves doing battle with violent urges, apathy, impulses to eat another slice of cake, some form of addiction, and laziness. Our highest aspirations will be to obtain material/financial security for ourselves and our families, whom we likely have love-hate relationships with. If we’re lucky, every now and then we’ll get to have mind-blowing sex, win competitions, and eat really tasty food.
Just to give you an example.
Perhaps your idea about yourself is rather low—or, at least, not as high as it could be. Try to tap into something higher here. Remember that what you want and believe for yourself, you want and believe about everyone.
Think about it. Is that really what you want to want for and believe about everyone? When you take all of humanity into consideration, do you feel an urging to raise your concept about yourself—as well as everyone else? Could you consider that perhaps you deserve more—along with everyone else? Could you consider that perhaps everyone else deserves more—along with you?
Why stay in the muck of our low ideas about ourselves? Even if I looked at the person in the next room and had a thought that he’s a buffoon, I’m not going to tell him that to his face. And if I can’t say those words, perhaps it’s because deep down, I know they’re not true—I know they’re not my highest idea about him, or anyone else. No—I can’t say those words because they do not reflect my highest idea about who he is nor about who I am, and what I truly want deep down is to indeed express and experience my highest idea about who we all are.
Maybe you think humans are just a bunch of dirty, stinky, dumb animals. But when you force yourself to sit with that statement, does it continually ring as true for you? Or do you start to doubt it?
I’d bet that you start to doubt it. I know your highest idea about animals isn’t that they’re nothing more than dirty, stinky, and dumb. If that was the case, why would millions of people keep animals in their homes? Why would those same animals express non-violent affection towards us? Why would those animals bother trying to communicate with us? Why would the squirrel run out of the way of an oncoming car? Why would a deer look me in the eyes and refrain from running away? Why would whales communicate with each other when hundreds of miles apart? Because they’re all dirty, stinky, and dumb-- right? Or is that answer not functional here? Might there be another answer?
Likewise, what if humans are more than animals—or even not animals at all? If survival was our base instinct, why would firefighters run into burning buildings to save people, when they could more easily save themselves by staying away? Likewise, if our primary concern was survival, why would people blow themselves up and create burning buildings in the first place?
Might it be that we are something other than we have thought we are?
What if we are spirits who have animal bodies? Not only that—what if we are divine? What if we are aspects of God itself? What if we are God?
Have you ever considered that high of an idea about yourself—that you are God? Have you ever considered that high of an idea about humanity—that we are all God, together?
If you don’t know what to make of the term “God,” consider that each and every person is an embodiment of pure intelligence itself. We are physical, individuated manifestations of supreme, universal, and pure intelligence—you and I both.
If you genuinely held such ideas, what might your desires be like then? Would it be easier to extend your desires to everyone, wanting for everyone else precisely what you want for yourself?
If everyone held ideas such as these about themselves and about everyone else, what would our world be like? Would we still have wars, enslavement, human trafficking, and people dying of starvation? Or would such things become virtually impossible?
If I regarded myself as being an expression of God, would you have to worry about me breaking into your house and taking your things? Or would I be more likely to leave a gift at your doorstep?
If you knew with complete certainty that you are an intelligent being, would you need a man to follow you around with a stick to keep you in line? Or would you still be able to conduct yourself well if left to your own devices? Even more, might you do an even better job when guided by your own intelligence than when you had someone waiting around for you to do wrong, trying to keep you “appropriate” and disciplined?
If you and I were alone on an island, and we genuinely regarded ourselves and each other as divine, intelligent beings, would we need to fear for our lives? Goodness, no. If you saw yourself and me that way, I would be delighted and honored to spend time with you. And I would feel reassured that even if we don’t survive long (though we probably will, because we’re so darn smart) we can have a great time until our lives end. I’m sure I would have much to discuss with, learn from, and enjoy sharing with you.
Is any of this resonating with you? Could you seriously consider changing your ideas about yourself, humanity, and reality as a whole? Would you welcome the ways in which your experience of life would change?
If you change your ideas about yourself, be prepared for your desires to change. This doesn’t mean that you’ll suddenly stop wanting everything that you want now. But you may re-prioritize your desires and redefine what you consider to be your greatest desire. For example, you may still want to be a great athlete, but you won’t be able to stomach centering your life around it anymore. It will still make sense for you to pursue, but you’ll know that athleticism in itself isn’t the point. There will be some higher purpose- some other, more central desire- involved for you.
What is your highest idea about who you are? What’s your highest idea about who I am? What’s your highest idea about who all humans are? What are your highest ideas about everything in reality—including reality itself?
Answer these questions with the grandest and most empowering ideas you consider possible. Then, be open to seeing these ideas evidenced in your experience of life. Choose to see in everyone your highest ideas about them.
Let those ideas be as high as they desire to be, and see what you once thought of as “problems” melt away.
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