Over the long run, however, the real reason you fail to stick with habits is that your self-image gets in the way. This is why you can’t get too attached to one version of your identity. Progress requires unlearning. Becoming the best version of yourself requires you to continuously edit your beliefs, and to upgrade and expand your identity.
Try it. Live for one day, one hour, as though you were going to die, actually going to die the next hour.
If you knew you were about to die, what would you do? You would gather your family together, put your money and property in order, and draw up a will. Then, as death approached, you would have to understand all that you had been. If you were merely frightened because you were dying, you would be dying for nothing. But you would not be frightened if you said, ‘I have lived a dull, ambitious, envious, stupid life, and now I am going to wipe all that totally from my memory. I am going to forget the past and live in this hour completely.
If you can live one hour as completely as that, you can live completely for the rest of your life.
But to die is hard work – not to die through disease and old age, that is not hard work at all. That is inevitable, it is what we are all going to do, and you cushion yourself against it in innumerable ways. But if you die so that you are living fully in this hour, you will find there is an enormous vitality, a tremendous attention to everything because this is the only hour you are living.
You look at this spring of life because you will never see it again; you see the smile, the tears, you feel the earth, you feel the quality of a tree, you feel the love that has no continuity and no object. Then you will find that in this total attention the ‘me’ is not, and that the mind, being empty, can renew itself. Then the mind is fresh, innocent, and such a mind lives eternally beyond time.
Question: You seem to advise me to be self-centered to the point of egoism. Must I not yield even to my interest in other people?
Maharaj: Your interest in others is egoistic, self-concerned, self-oriented. You are not interested in others as persons, but only as far as they enrich, or enoble your own image of yourself.
And the ultimate in selfishness is to care only for the protection, preservation and multiplication of one’s own body. By body I mean all that is related to your name and shape— your family, tribe, country, race, etc. To be attached to one’s name and shape is selfishness.
A man who knows that he is neither body nor mind cannot be selfish, for he has nothing to be selfish for.
Or, you may say, he is equally ‘selfish’ on behalf of everybody he meets; everybody’s welfare is his own. The feeling ‘I am the world, the world is myself’ becomes quite natural; once it is established, there is just no way of being selfish.
To be selfish means to covet, to acquire, accumulate on behalf of the part against the whole.