By Radhanath Swami
What makes us act selfishly? Question: The caring attitude is pleasing to everyone, but generally the default attitude in this world is one always thinks selfishly. So is it an inbuilt script of the mind that makes one think selfishly?Radhanath Swami: The false ego misconceives: “I am this body, I am this mind, I am the controller, I am the proprietor, and I am the selfish enjoyer.” This is foundational to all material complications. It impels us to put ourselves above others and act selfishly. And when we continue to act in that way it becomes a habit. According to how we habituate ourselves, by making those wrong choices, we become more and more engrained in that way of thinking.
That is the way any habit works. For example, if you smoke a lot of cigarettes you become addicted, and the more you smoke the more you become addicted. The habit becomes a craving, and then it is very difficult to do anything without feeding your habit. When you are in the middle of it, you cannot really understand the effect of what you are doing because you are so much a slave of the habit. So that is exactly the way the ego works. Our selfishness, our arrogance, our greed, our selfish passions, our anger, and our envy – as we make choices to feed these habits, they become stronger and stronger and stronger.
But when we associate with saintly people we began to understand what we really want in life and what our condition is. And then we will take the medicine and the way of life by which we can become liberated from these habits of egotism. Chanting of the Holy Names is the simple medicine that will cure one from all the symptoms of ego, ignorance and selfishness.