“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” Oprah Winfrey
If a little of something is really good, then a lot must be much better.
So, already you may be thinking that I plan to write about addictions. After all, is that not the most common of all of reasons offered by substance abusers/addicts? Those of us who wrestle with addition are in the habit of numbing; of doing whatever it takes it takes to mask the ordinary psychic pain of being human. More is always better than a little.
But we have a problem here: according to the definition above everyone is an addict of some kind… we already know the obvious Big Four: drugs, alcohol, food, and sex. Extraordinarily pleasing, but even more destructive.
However, doesn’t everyone possess one or more “acceptable addictions”: pride, self-centered activities, gossip… or how about the habit of “choosing the wrong partner,” or working long hours, or even (God forbid) texting?
For this reason, historical philosophers, teachers, and mystics urge a contemplative time of deep reflection on the negative influences of the “small self.” John of the Cross goes so far as to call for the “annihilation of the [small] self.” Few things distract us from a profound and rich life of goodness and love than our own needy and damaged egos.
And my guess is there are few things more difficult to regulate than the needs of the injured ego, which by the way, seems to be the most common state of the ego: hurt or injured, therefore screaming for self-satisfaction.
A Container Provides Emptiness
I found helpful wisdom on this in The Tao Te Ching (or “The Way”). Lao Tzu concisely describes the usefulness of an empty space: the value of a container is found in the empty “space it provides,” not in the ceramic than formed it. The same is true when you can discover the ability to empty your small self… of its ego-centeredness and replace it with infinite goodness and love.
Unfortunately, I fear this may be a life-long process. Every time I find myself turning down the volume of my self-centeredness, I only discover how far I have yet to go. It’s like climbing a summit only to discover yet another summit behind the one I just climbed.
Tiny, But Consistent Steps
But. Truthfully. Each tiny step of self-emptying opens a door for more divine serenity to enter and take a role in controlling my every thought and action of goodness.
Be Too Much?
Photo courtesy of Anisimov Ihor at istockphoto