Gratitude, Entitlement, and Self Image

What am I worth? Some measure their worth in monetary terms–net worth.  Some measure their worth in personal terms–I am worthy of love, I am unworthy.  Some look at their spiritual qualities.  Are we basically good?  Are we sinners?  Are we OK, you’re OK?  I’m not sure any of these are relevant questions.  And the reason is the very word “we.”

Everything we have is a gift.  What do we do by our own effort?  It looks like everything.  But life itself isn’t something we gave ourselves.  Life is a gift.  Who of us can stop our hearts from beating by our own effort?  Who among us by our own effort can take our food apart molecule by molecule and reassemble them into the carbon chain our bodies need at the moment (Krebs Cycle)?  Who has the power to be good by their own efforts?  Whose knowledge came from their own brain?  Even Jesus said, “Why do you call me good?  No one is good but God alone.”

We are taught to have a healthy self-image.  We are taught to love ourselves.  We are taught to have self-confidence.  But what is the self?  The Buddhists say there is no self.  Which self am I to love?  David at 5 years of age?  David at 25?  Who I am now?  Who I’ll be tomorrow, in a year, in a decade?  Did I cause myself to grow, to age?  Certainly I made choices–I will retain that much of the self. But was my decision-making process my own?  How much of it was intuitive?  How much of my deliberations were my brain’s own wisdom, and not that to which I was exposed in my family, by my education, by conventional wisdom, impressed upon me by culture?

There’s not all that much of me that I can have a self-image of, or to have confidence in, or to love.  I’m not sure any of these issues are of that much import.  I think what matters more is the gratitude I have for the breath I take every moment, for the heart that beats for me, for the transporter enzymes that keep my cell membranes charged properly.  My interest is in what is doing all this for me.  Rather than what is called self love, my understanding of the self means love for that which is making my self.  That Being is whom I love.  Self love for me is loving the Cause for myself.



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