Enlightened Self Interest

The Dodd at 2014 feet, a mountain for all that.

Not every day one gets to walk out of ones front door and climb a mountain! So said my walking companion as we paused at what was probably not the summit of the Dodd pictured above. That was Tuesday and a grand four hours walk it was too. Seven miles? Possibly nudging into eight miles? Possibly. Anyway it was good to get out for an extended walk even though I came down with something, a cold perhaps, hours after getting back to the monastery. Thus my absence from these pages. Sorry.

At one point, on our decent of the mountain, I pondered aloud on the question of the motivation behind actions. We talk sometimes about enlightened self interest which I’d take to mean that there is a recognition of an action as having an element of self interest in it. Something gained for oneself. A recognition that the act is ‘good’ and not primarily motivated by, or driven by, the part that’s greedy for itself. Oneself. Now, I don’t want to get into grading acts as more or less selfish. Or what is, or could be, a selfless act. This would be silly. Especially since the common everyday understanding of self is a physiological one. Errm, and the Buddhist understanding is that there is no separate self.

My question voiced into the air as we descended to the West Allen River was, What marks out the difference between enlightened self interest and un enlightened self interest? A question that went absolutely no where! Even when the intention is otherwise how drawn we are to grade, pin down and find measures to evaluate and judge. Both ourselves and others. There is a hairs breadth between judgmentalism and wise discernment.

I have found when veering off track that, when ones basic living intention is clearly and strongly pointing towards the good, there is that within our make up which prompts us, sometimes on a visceral level, to stop and take stock. And redirect. Not so easy to turn around when there is the inertia of time and personal investment involved. Yet possible. We see it in the story told by Giles Duley about himself. See my post and the links within it titled Photographer – a self portrait.

Bows to you Giles.

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2 thoughts on “Enlightened Self Interest”

  1. Yes very pertinent, stop, take stock, redirect; and always going on…

    I’m sure I went up The Dodd a long time ago. The biggest peak here, Ronas Hill, is just short of 1500′ but it has a mountains attitude and presence.

    -/\- Kevin

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