Self-indulgent, and also universal?

 

A rambling post…..

Blogs – including this one – can easily be seen as self-indulgent and self-absorbed, an expression of our individualistic and navel-gazing contemporary culture, and so on. All of that may be true. I often have the thought that this blog is way too self-absorbed.

And yet, if it also is universal – a mirror for what is going on here and for also for others – it may be interesting and even at times helpful.

It also seems that there are two ways of being self-absorbed.

There is the sincere inquiry, a wish to see and feel more clearly what is going on here. It is what private journals have been used for for centuries. It comes from a wish to move beyond where I am.

And it can also be a way to rehearse my familiar viewpoints, to stay where I am, with no or little wish to move beyond.

The first from of self-absorption seem quite healthy and helpful, in moderate amounts and at times where life invites it. The second form may be less obviously helpful, although very understandable. It becomes really helpful when it is used in a “judge your neighbor” way, generating material for later inquiry.

Some additional thoughts on self-absorption:

Self-absorption is really just belief-absorption, attention centering on beliefs as it naturally does. In that sense, everything anyone thinks – while believing those stories – is self-absorbed. There is an “I” there that all of those stories centers around and relates to. Within this, there is the conventional form of being self-absorbed, thinking explicitly and frequently about how we appear, what is going of with us, how we can get something and avoid something else, and so on.

And why does attention go to these stories when they are taken as true? For at least three reason.

First, because these stories – when believed – are naturally perceived as very important: They are true, so they must be important.

Second, because there is a a survival function there. Strong beliefs come from culture or from dramatic experiences, and most often from a combination of the two. So we learn to fit into our culture, and we are also invited to more thoroughly think through how we relate to important situations in our life. We ruminate because there is something more for us to see there, in how we relate to the situation and also how we relate to our thoughts about it. How can I relate to the situation in a more helpful way? How can I relate to my thoughts about it in a more helpful way? What happens when I believe them? What happens if they are seen as stories only, as tool that may or may not be helpful? Which one is more helpful in a practical, everyday sense? Do I function better when I believe a story, or when it is recognized as a tool of temporary value only?

And the third reason is another take on the previous one. There is a draw to belief because they are the filters that prevents what is to notice itself. Somewhere, there is already a recognition of what is, and beliefs as temporarily creating the appearance of being an I with an other, so attention naturally goes to those beliefs so this can be seen more clearly. Attention going there is an invitation to notice me and I as images only, and what happens when these are identified with and what happens when they are recognized as images only.

………………
………………

– self-indulgent
— self-indulgent, self-absorbed
— and yet, also universal? helpful?
— also two ways of being self-indulgent
— (a) sincere inquiry, go past where I am – take time to investigate and reflect
— (b) to rehearse and reinforce beliefs, where I am
— self-absorbed
— (a) belief-absorbed
— (b) notice what is really here (“I” as an image only)

……

The first from of self-absorption seem quite healthy and helpful, in moderate amounts and at times where life invites it. The second form may be less obviously helpful, although very understandable.

……..

Second, because there is a a survival function there. Strong beliefs come from culture or from dramatic experiences, and most often from a combination of the two. So we learn to fit into our culture, and we are also invited to more thoroughly think through how we relate to important situations in our life. We ruminate because there is something more for us to see there, in how we relate to the situation and also how we relate to our thoughts about it. How can I relate to the situation in a more helpful way? How can I relate to my thoughts about it in a more helpful way? What happens when I believe them? What happens if they are seen as stories only, as tool that may or may not be helpful?

………

And the third reason is another take on the previous one. There is a draw to belief because they are the filters that prevents what is to notice itself. We lay down an imagined boundary within content of experience, label one part “me” and “I” and the other part “world” and “other”, and beliefs with any story then create a sense of identification with that me and I.

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