Realization and a Test
I had a realization on Wednesday morning that we have a Self and we have bodies. Our Self is permanent, it is who we are and what we do. Our bodies are transient, they come and go. I thought about a lot of things that motivate me, and they all seemed to be making this one point; there was one quote from Bruce Lee that seems to exemplify it; it's the second one in that section there. The point is, you must never fear to lose a body to save your Self.
Nearly right after I had this epiphany, it was forcibly brought to my attention that I had invested too much and prematurely into another person. I had to let this body die and it was painful and it's still painful and it will continue to be painful, to that body. But to my Self, it is of no importance. My Self continues and does as it always has, continuing my good habits and losing my bad ones.
I saw a picture this weekend; it was of a Rhino running on a treadmill, he had a picture of a unicorn hung over it. The title was "never forget your dreams." That is true, never forget your dreams. However, that image was wrong and the Rhino was wrong and what it represented was wrong. That Rhino ought not desire the affections of another, but desire only the improvement of its Self. Improvement is its own motivation, it brings with it all kinds of goods. But it is vital that we not forget that the reason we improve our Selves is to improve our Selves. The goods that improvement of the Self brings, like our bodies, can be transient and will disappear some times and if we pursued improvement of the Self only to obtain those goods, then we will have no desire to continue the improvement of our Selves once those goods are lost.
How then to guarantee our continued pursuit of improvement of the Self? The answer is simple: The only reason to improve the Self is for improvement of the Self. All else follows from that. Improvement of the Self is both in itself good and also good as a means of obtaining other (transient) goods. In this way it is its own motivation.
I by no means advocate for giving up on a goal or retreating from greatness because the path gets hard. That is a coward's path and not fit for a wolf to tread. I haven't given up on this person, but I can see that the body which had developed around this non-existent ideal was weak and it was holding myself back. Goals are not encased within our bodies, but within our Selves. Our bodies are shed from us as we become a new being, each time more powerful and closer to our Self. One must be ready at any time to lose a body to strengthen one's Self.
Do not shrink from victory, but never lose sight of it. It is within you, not outside of you; and because of this, we can never permanently lose it, it is always there waiting for us to find it again.