By Chirag Dangarwala
Selfish is described in the dictionary as âadjective
1. devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one’s own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others.
2. characterized by or manifesting concern or care only for oneself: selfish motives.
From the above definition, one can understand that generally Selfish people are not liked andÂ this quality is considered not a very good quality to possess. It indeed is not a very good quality from material point of view. However from the spiritual point of you this quality canÂ become one of the steps in realizing the Reality of one’s existence.
In order to understand what selfishness is, let us first of all examine what the self is, generally speaking people consider the body which is seen with the naked eye to be the self and selfishness in this regard is the tendency to please the body or the senses, i.e sense gratification. Some consider the mind as the self and engage themselves in mental speculation and excessive thinking and selfishness in this regard is the tendency to please the mind at the cost of others. Some others consider the intelligence as the self and they are engaged in philosophical discussions and debates, and selfishness in this regard is the tendency to establish one’s ideas as true amongst the others.
From the Vedic point of view we can understand that the self is neitherÂ the body, nor the mind or the intelligence. In the eighth chapter of Bhagavad Gita Arjuna asks Lord Krishna about what is the selfÂ
kimÌ tad brahma kim adhyÄtmamÌ
kimÌ karma purusÌ£ottama
adhibhÅ«tamÌ ca kimÌ proktam
adhidaivamÌ kim ucyate [ B.g. 8.1]
” Arjuna inquired: O my Lord, O Supreme Person, what is Brahman? What is the self? What are fruitive activities? What is this material manifestation? And what are the demigods? Please explain this to me.”
In answer to this question Lord Krsna replied
aksÌ£aramÌ brahma paramamÌ
svabhÄvo ‘dhyÄtmam ucyate
visargahÌ£ karma-samÌjÃ±itahÌ£ [ B.g. 8.3]
“The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: The indestructible, transcendental living entity is called Brahman, and his eternal nature is called adhyÄtma, the self. Action pertaining to the development of the material bodies of the living entities is called karma, or fruitive activities.”
Â It is evident that eternal nature of the transcendental living entity is calledÂ the self.Â In another place Lord Sri Krsna explains the hierarchy of the senses, mind and intelligence with respect to the soul or the living entity
indriyÄnÌ£i parÄnÌ£y Ähur
indriyebhyahÌ£ paramÌ manahÌ£
manasas tu parÄ buddhir
yo buddhehÌ£ paratas tu sahÌ£ [ B.g. 3.42]
“The working senses are superior to dull matter; mind is higher than the senses; intelligence is still higher than the mind; and he [the soul] is even higher than the intelligence.”
So if we consider the above statements we can understand the soul is higher than the intelligence which is higher than the mind which isÂ inÂ turnÂ higher than the senses, as mentionedÂ beforeÂ self is the eternal nature of the soul. In many places in the Vedic literature it is mentioned that the eternal constitutional position of a soul is that ofÂ being a servant of the Supreme Lord Sri Krsna
Â jÃ©vera ’svarÃ¼pa’ hayaâkÃ¥Ã±Ã«era ‘nitya-dÃ¤sa’Â [ C.c. Madhya 20.108]
“It is the living entity’s constitutional position to be an eternal servant of Krsna”
So if the natureÂ of the living entity i.e the self is to become servant of Krsna, then as per the dictionary meaning of Selfish,Â for a living entity the most welfare will take place when he becomes greedy for service of Krsna, hence becoming “self “ish will become a quality which should be acquired inorder to become advanced in Krsna Consciouness.
The point is, if one really identifies oneself with the material elements like the senses, mind and intelligenceÂ one’s selfishness will be limited and unbeneficial or harmfulÂ for him and others, on the other hand if one identifies oneself as an eternalÂ loving servant of the Lord , his selfishness will makeÂ theÂ living entityÂ more advanced in spiritual life and make him realize his relation with the Supreme Lord which will benefit himselfÂ and inspire others. The easiest way to attain this Spiritual Selfishness in this dark age of Kali is to Chant the Holy names of the Lord Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare