I was reminded of the different meanings of “doing it for oneself” tonight.
First by finishing up Freud and Man’s Soul, a book which shows the soulfulness of Freud’s approach and the technification and de-souling of it by the English language translations. And then by Searching for Blue – a beautiful movie about a young man from a tribe in Peru.
So the themes of the evening seems to be all the different aspects of narcissism, doing it for oneself, living one’s life for others, and maturing as a human being.
Freud saw US culture as a prime example of narcisim written large. Of people living for themselves, in the narrow sense of the word. Of the “me” culture, with little regard for others. Where ones own narrow self-interests takes the place of solidarity, superficial friendliness takes the place of soulful, deep and rich connections, cynicism takes the place of heartfull and sincere connections, and sentimentality takes the place of deep recognition and empathy.
Narcissism is that which prevents us from becoming fuller and richer human beings, from maturing through sincere and vulnerable heart connections, to allow difficulties to deepen our humanity, through living our lives sincerely and in a wider context.
Living ones life as service
The movie Searching for Blue showed the exact opposite. A young man from a traditional village in the rainforest, born to be a painter, studying in Lima – all so he could be a bridge between his own culture and that of the city. He lived his life to serve his own culture and his own people, and also so other people could learn from his culture. And his own family lived their lives so he could fulfill this role in the world. They all lived from heartfull connections, and they all lived their lives for something beyond themselves. They all allowed themselves to deeply care, to break open, and allow themselves to mature as real and full human beings.
Doing it for oneself
Doing it for oneself can have different meanings.
One the one hand, it can be taken in a very narrow sense. To live for myself and maybe those closest to me, and not care much about anybody else.
On the other hand, it can be understood in a more soulful way. When we really connect with ourselves, others and the world around us, doing it for ourselves becomes doing it for the whole. I live this life, fully knowing the intricate and deep connections with those around me, with my culture and society, with this land, with future and past generations, with this Earth, with this Universe. With Existence.
I do it for myself, and live for something larger than myself.
In a way…
When I live for myself, I see a tendency to want to do for others. I do for others to please them and get what I want.
When I live for something larger than myself, I do it for myself. I do it because of the connections, not for the approval of others.
One is a life of impoverishment, fear, lack and isolation. The other is a life of richness, fullness, sincerity and deep connections.