The Fallacy of Self-Development

December 13, 2018

 

How much of self-development is about the Self? Do you even know what the Self is?

 

The thing is, the Self doesn't need development. So what this "self-development" is ultimately about is ego-development. As long as you are aware of this, there may be no real problem. You can continue to seek, learn, study, practice etc. as you wish, with the awareness that these efforts are for the ego. Likely, these efforts will improve your life. But they will not develop the Self. The Self cannot be accessed through these means, because the Self is not a hidden or distant aspect of your identity. The Self is the pre-condition for the ego, not the other way around as the field of "self-development" presumes.

 

The Self doesn’t need knowledge. It doesn’t seek information from outward sources. That is always in the domain of the ego. Even when the ego is directed in a spiritual pursuit i.e. meditation or spiritual alignment, it is still the ego. It is not the Self.

 

I’m not claiming to know what the Self really is. I think (and by “I”, I mean my ego) that the Self is ultimately unknowable in the rational sense. How can we know what, or who, we are unless we have a point of reference that is not it? It’s impossible. The Self is a paradox of annihilation. To look for it is to cease to exist. 

What is the value in experiencing this total and utter ego-annihilation? Perhaps the value lies in the detachment, i.e. freedom, we feel when we no longer require our various identities for comfort. Good or bad, we have all formed identities as crutches to help us navigate a world that in reality makes no sense to us. Even though we know we can change the filter of our perception if we consciously choose, not many of us have the practice established that would allow us to do so. Even when we do, we’ve merely changed the filter, not removed it.

 

So, we seek knowledge from external sources. We want our Selves to be developed by other minds; by other teachers; by other books; by other scholars; by other priests, etc. We are too afraid to see the truth - that without these crutches, we are left confronting our very mortality. To experience the Self devoid of ego is to experience the death of our own identities.

 

To pursue "self-development" in the hopes that it will make the Self known to us is foolish. All that happens is that we fortify our previously conditioned beliefs while inadvertently supporting people or organizations who benefit from the fallacy of self-development. We keep choosing to believe those things that make us feel good about ourselves, including feeling good about feeling bad about ourselves, and we do this completely unconsciously, all the while proclaiming ourselves to be awakened, conscious beings. What we need instead is to strip away all the conditioning, all the beliefs, all the needs, and to exhume the Self from this grave of "self-development" that we've been so content to occupy.

 

Recognize and embrace the ego for all the goal-directed efforts it engages in, but don't confuse it for the Self. Don't buy into the idea that you must seek or do anything to be your true Self, or to experience your Self fully. 

 

 

 

 

 

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