Emancipation from “The Prison of Self” . . .

“None of us is as smart as all of us,” reads the caption of a photo of one Little League football team. Neither is any one of us as strong as all of us.

I will ever vividly recall the story of one father while standing beside a huge rock looked down and told his son to pick it up. The young man worked tenaciously at the task before finally giving up.

“Pick it up,” repeated the father, and again the son proceeded to give it his best effort before again giving up. “Pick it up,” the father once more commanded the son who answered: “You saw me twice attempt to do so using all the strength that I have but I cannot lift it! The father then replied, “But you did not use all of the strength you have. I am standing right here before you and you never once asked for my assistance. Until you have used all of the strength available to you, you have not used all of the strength you have!”

How many of us spend inestimable time, effort and resources on good ideas and projects that we choose to tackle solo while seeking neither assistance nor advice from others who may have invaluable knowledge and/or wisdom on the subject. It is those who have had the bounty of playing team sports at some point in their lives who best understand the advantage of team-work for there is no “I” in the word team! Instead we find:
T – for tenacity and tolerance, both of which rank high on the list;
E – for the encouragement of fellow team members and supporters;
A – admiration and appreciation of individual team members for the contribution of each toward overall goals: and . .
M – mastering the art and science of perfecting team objectives: The addition of capital “I” to the equation not only destroys true motive but subliminally fosters the concept of self-superiority.

The human ego is so subtle that we often do not recognize certain acts and characteristics as being selfish. Among them we find: I Must Be First; What will others think or say? I must get My way; Engaging in (and listening to) backciting; being argumentative and quarelsome when presenting my ideas–to mention but a few. Ad also to this–Talking too much; or talking too little, depriving others of my ideas, experiences and knowledge. Speaking too loud to attract maximum attention, or even speaking so softly that others must strain or make other special efforts to hear you.

I am sure that we recognize many of these traits–in other,but not admittedly among ourselves.

Much emphasis is placed in the Baha’i Holy Writings on “The Prison of self,” with an ongoing flow of passages, prayers, spiritual exercises, institutes and study circles dedicated to our freedom therefrom. Ranking high among them in my estimation is the self-transforming “Hollow Reed Prayer” that begins thusly:

“O God! Make me a hollow reed from which the pith of self hath been blown, that I may become a pure channel through which Thy Love may flow to others…”

Also in The Hidden Words of Baha-u-llah we read: “O My servant! Free thyself from the fetters of this world, and loose thyself from the prison of self. Seize thy chance, for it will come to thee no more!” Investigate!