Self’s the Source of Woe

As Bryan Ferry (whom I’ve heard is a ponce) says, “All your troubles come from yourself.”  What did he mean by that remark?  Was he just being deep?  Or merely singing in a deepish voice?  Selflessness has been endlessly lauded as a virtue, but is it possible to be selfless?  In the song “No Compassion,” David Byrne of Talking Heads says, “Be a little more selfish–it might do you some good.”  What was he trying to say?  Is it really a good idea to be selfish?  Isn’t selfishness a species of foolishness?  Should officious fascists fallaciously shuffle fish?

Buddhish (sic) thinking suggests that all of our grief, including that which grows from our myriad beliefs, comes from an attachment to the ego.  The anagram of “egos” is “goes.”  When you stay where you are, sitting on the floor or else in a chair, saturated by stasis, mesmerized by the passive act of stimulating stillness, something subtly amazing starts to happen.  It takes a while to progress; it doesn’t happen instantly.  It may require several sedentary sessions occupying days, weeks, months, or years.  At least that’s what “I” have read.

Korean Zen Buddhist teacher Seung Sahn wrote a book called Seeking Enlightenment is a Big Mistake.  But you can’t achieve nirvana by blowing your brains out with a shotgun either (or else being bumped off by your wife, an alternative explanation for Kurt Cobain’s death, not that I’m in a position to draw any conclusions, since I don’t know).  S. S. wrote another book called Only Don’t Know.  This keeps your mind open, freely questioning everything, including all the emotions parading through your brain, the medley of memories both melancholy and merry, the hopes and expectations that make you trip as you take your next step.

Is this good advice?  I don’t know.  I’ll let you know if I find out.  Meanwhile, ignorance may not be strength, but it’s enough like bliss to keep me from jumping to too many conclusions.  Being wrong is not a crime, as long as you don’t insist you’re right all the time.


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