How does faith address selfishness?

June 1, 2013 

Lama Chuck Stanford, Rime Buddist Center, Kansas City, Mo.: From the Buddhist perspective, selfishness is often referred to as ego clinging. When we cling to ego or to self, we are more concerned with our own interests, needs and wishes than those of others. We falsely believe that our own needs and wishes are more important than those of others.

The great Buddhist teacher of the 20th century, Buddhadasa, said, “Selfishness is a terrible burden for the entire world. You can see that all the problems, all the conflict, all the crises, are the result of selfishness. All crises, wars, exploitation, destruction of the environment, pollution, population growth that is still out of hand in much of the world, the piling up of food by certain countries, other countries starving — all of this can be traced back to selfishness.”

Through the practice of meditation we begin to cultivate selflessness and the letting go of ego clinging that is the very opposite of selfishness.

Elder Donald D. Deshler of the Seventy, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: One of the ongoing challenges of our life on Earth is to remind ourselves that we are not the “center of the universe.”

There are many things we can do that put us, and not God or others, at the center of all that we think, say and do. For example, do we build ourselves up at the expense of others? Do we fail to give credit to others when it is due? Do we choose to do things for attention and praise rather than for the good that we can do for others?

In short, whose needs are we really trying to meet?

These are just a few of the ways that selfishness can be manifested in our lives.

True happiness comes only from following the perfect example provided to us through the life of Jesus Christ. The very sum and substance of Jesus’ life was one of pure selflessness.

By learning of him, we can see how attributes like goodness, patience, kindness, meekness, love, mercy, forgiveness, understanding and service to others can come to define our motives, desires, attitudes and behavior. Indeed, we should seek to become one who lives a life of selflessness as modeled perfectly by the savior of the world.

Send questions for Voices of Faith columnists to Darryl Levings at levings@kcstar.com.

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