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If we wish to change the person we find ourselves to be, we must change our thinking.
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July 9th, 2019
Loneliness can seem somewhat paradoxical when considered in one’s own company. The sentiment seems to call into mind an idea of there always being two people in a person. Our simple ability to reflect on our own thoughts and emotions in real time generates enough of a remove to at least create a helpful illusion.
In the meditation practice of Metta, one is directed to think of another person with loving-kindness and wish them free of suffering and hope that they experience fulfillment and joy. This practice is often then redirected to take one’s own self as the object of Metta. To wish one’s self well as we might wish a good friend well.
For those who are often very hard on themselves, this can be a difficult task that can easily produce remorse. This common tendency begs a larger question: why do we not seek to build a friendship with ourselves?
It’s not uncommon for a person to be self-sacrificing to a fault, giving to a point where they are incurring detriment. One way to think about this a little more clearly is to imagine a person giving to a friend at the expense of another friend who is loved and cherished equally. The situation makes no sense. What we are best off to seek is the win-winwhere we can give at no detriment, because the person who is self-sacrificing to a fault ultimately harms those relationships in the long-term when the cost is more apparent.
More importantly, if we investigate the mind closely enough, it’s quite difficult to find the person we think we are. If this seems confusing, we can contemplate this question:
Can you locate the source of your attention that allows you to read and understand this sentence?
can your attention pay attention to itself?
. . . not really.
It’s a bit like trying to use a camera to take a picture of the very same camera without the use of a mirror. It’s simply impossible to point the camera at itself.
We are, in a sense, constantly witnessing who we’ve turned out to be. We witness thoughts arise, we do not predict them, for to try and predict a thought is to actually have it.
Reflecting on one’s own self in this way, the little separation can help foster a sense of good will, in the same way it’s easy to foster good will towards others.
At the very least, at the end of the day, you’re stuck with yourself.
or, we can look at it differently:
You will always have your own company. In light of that, it’s probably best to make a good friend.
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