October 25, 2010

Affirming the intrinsic worth of all conscious beings

There are certain kinds of events that take us out of ourselves, that allow us to transcend or break out of the egocentric circle of concerns that all too often binds our thinking life. A possible beginning is a romantic episode in which another conscious being becomes a passionate object of interest. The being of the other assumes an intense importance that, if it lasts long enough, can mature into an appreciation of the other as a kind of hero, struggling against existential limitations to which they are ultimately destined to lose. This mature appreciation of the other would be an ugly narcissism if focused on the self; but focused on the other, it can be a model for, eventually and personally, affirming the intrinsic worth of all conscious beings.

Written by Joe Frank Jones, III, from "Introduction to The Pluralist symposium on Ralph D. Ellis's 'Spiritual Partnership and the Affirmation of the Value of Being'.(Critical essay)." in the Fall 2006 issue of The Pluralist, preceding Ellis's long essay "Spiritual Partnership and the Affirmation of the Value of Being"
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Update 10/26/10:  I note that today the splendid William Harryman posted sentiment that one should be compassionate with oneself in his Integral Options Cafe blog:  "Om - Create Time for Self-Compassion."

The issue rages on, for me.  Are there times, or people, for whom being compassionate with oneself is appropriate? Are there others of us that are better 'served' by always batting our ego down in whack-a-mole style!?  I guess we each need to choose for ourself, BUT the choice we are inclined to make is, perhaps, not the best for us. 

2 comments:

Kaspalita said...

I think "compassion to oneself" can be a dangerous practice in a society where narcissism and selfishness is already rife.

But being always Other focused has a shadow too, that one ignores issues in oneself that get in the way of true compassionate behaviour.

Even the Buddha retreated into the forest when his bickering monks became too much for him.... ;)

I tend to think more and more than when we can say something is always true, we are usually wrong.....

Tom Armstrong said...

Kaspalita,

I am quite sure [but not positive, since I don't want to be absolute!] that you have found the Middle Way between the poles of this 'argument.'

Indeed. I think the greater potential problem is letting in so much 'compassion to oneself' it becomes such that that must be fed and its strange sweetness becomes so addictive that people retreat into the Forest of Themself and don't come back out!