I have said many times that the real enemy of work on self and the greater Work is self-importance. Perhaps this statement needs further elaboration?
What is self-importance? Is it the strutting, boastful ego attempting to impose its will on others? Or is it much deeper and more pervasive than that?
Is self-importance also the ongoing concern about self, anxiety over what happens to me, to my plans, my wants, my accomplishments, my happiness? Can I live without the worry that I could be doing so much better?
Is an exaggerated sense of guilt about what I have done or not done also evidence of self-importance? Yes, I need to make efforts to keep my word and to respect the needs of others, not only for the sake of others but also for the sake of my own conscience. When my conscience is clear, my capacity for work is much greater. But despite my best efforts, I will fail to meet my own standards and I will certainly fail to satisfy the wants of others. Do I become excessively concerned about, and bound to, the judgments I make about myself? Do I assume that my life and the lives of others rotate around my shortcomings? Is holding onto my guilt also evidence of my self-importance?
When do I accept my imperfections, when do I accept forgiveness, when do I agree to feel compassion for myself and for all the other sentient beings who are doing the best they can in a world that does not favour or support our best intentions? Does my ongoing judgment of myself stem from a sense of self-importance?
If I am not important, if I am not precious to myself and others, perhaps there can be room for the importance of relating to a universal being. Perhaps by realizing my unimportance, I am more able to find and express the gesture that is right for this moment. Can I then trust the work to guide me?
Of course, if you take this view as a blank cheque to do what you want without guilt, you have missed the point…which is that what I do from a sense of self-importance takes me away from the work.