Turtle Talk Editorial: The prison of self

“O, My Servant! Free thyself from the fetters of this world, and lose thy soul from the prison of self,” we find in the Hidden Words of the Baha’i Writings.

Of course, no one wishes to be selfish and of those who are, few indeed may even be aware of it.  The human ego is so subtle that we often do not recognize certain attitudes and actions as selfish.

Among the signs in ourselves and others, we find: “I must be first – Our competitive culture makes it extremely difficult for a person to free one’s self from the “cult” of having to be first or to push our children over the edge in an attempt to make them first.  Such perpetual strivings produce increasing separateness rather than unity, teamwork, and fellowship.  Therefore one must make every effort not to become entangled in the web of controllable competition.

Other signs include: “What others will think or say,”  displaying a willingness to sacrifice principle and respectable behavior towards others which may make one unpopular.

   Frequently finding fault with others – family members, friends, co-workers, etc.  We are charged to remember that “Humanity is not perfect.  There are imperfections in every human being … How couldst thou forget thine own faults and busy thyself with the faults of others?” Instead, “One must see in every human being only that which is worthy of praise.”

  Engaging in or listening to backbiting (speaking evil of the absent).  According to the Baha’i Holy Writings, one must “regard backbiting as grievous error and keep himself aloof from its dominion, in as much as backbiting quencheth the light of the heart and extinguisheth the life of the soul”.

Signs of a selfish ego also include:  

Talking too much – depriving others of the opportunity to express their opinions, knowledge, or ideas;

Talking too little – depriving others of your experiences and knowledge, or from fear of making a mistake;

Speaking too loudly, that others are drowned out or disturbed by the offensive loud volume; or

Speaking so softly that others must strain to hear what is being said by you.

Presenting your ideas in an argumentative and quarrelsome manner;

Using sarcasm that hurts the feelings of others with cutting remarks;

Being habitually late – sending the obvious signal that my time is more valuable than yours, or deliberately attracting the attention of everyone in the room by your distracting late entrance.

Constantly Demanding Special Privileges (that often deprive others).

To commit one’s life to unity, love and fellowship remember, “One must see in every human being only that which is worthy of praise … The light of a good character surpasseth the light of the sun and the radiance thereof.  Whoso attaineth unto it is accounted as a jewel among men,” once freed from the prison of self.

“Whoso ariseth in this Day to aid Our Cause, and summoneth to his assistance the host of a praiseworthy character and upright conduct, the influence flowing from such an action will most certainly be diffused throughout the whole world,”  promise the Baha’i Holy Writings.