Episode 21 – Unselfing, letting go of your ego in the modern world (11 min)

Man suffers because he takes seriously what the Gods made for fun.

ALAN WATTS

Unselfing – what a term, isn’t it? I think there’s something about that prefix – “un”. Letting go, unlearning, unselfing.

Ours is the time of the ego – rampant, self-indulgent ego. Selfies, personalised feeds, personalised ads, personalised everything – almost all good products, but almost all terrible if left unchecked or unsupervised.

And isn’t that true for our times? We have let the idea of our “selves” go too far – far more than we ourselves can handle it. And that is impacting not just our public discourse and our politics, but also our relationships and our everyday lives as we speak.

However, we also live in the time of Understanding – a fully encompassing, discerning Understanding. And one core precursor to that Understanding is a detachment from the cobweb of the self, of the ego.

Which is where I bring to you the idea of “Unselfing”.

I came across this term in a very recent article a friend had shared with me. All the details to the article and the author are below in the show notes. It is a must read, just as this episode is a must listen. 😛

Until next time.

Peace out.

Unselfing | Iris Murdoch | The need for letting go of self obsession and narcissism | The Unlearning Playground podcast by Chetan Narang

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“Last night I lost the world, and gained the universe.”

C. JoyBell C.

That, to me, sums up the utility of that age-old idea of letting go.

When I first came across the article I have talked about in this episode, the words immensely resonated with me. It was probably the first time ever that I heard the word unselfing, but the 2-3 minute read was quite enough to get the idea across. And also the overall utility of it. And let me tell you, it’s not a new idea either. Eastern philosophical traditions such as the Advaita Vedanta, Zen Buddhism, etc have focussed on nothing but, at the core of their teachings and messaging.

However, in the times we’re living in, the idea is more relevant than ever. Our modern modes of living – all the personalised feeds, all the selfies, all the personalised ads – are contributing to strengthening the ego, to strengthening the separation that is the basis of the ego.

And while the ego is an important mechanism of the functioning of the human organism, it is a terrible master. And that, more than anything, is an absolutely striking reality of our time. To quote the article (only a teaser):

"Somewhere along the way, in the century of the self, we forgot each other. We forgot this vast and wonder-filled universe, of which we are each but a tiny and transient wonder."
- Maria Popova (unselfing.social)

The central idea should not be something alien to someone who’s familiar with my work. Quite a number of my podcast episodes have been directed to this very same idea. For a refresher, here are a few episodes that you could check out as a sister content to this episode and this article I talked about here.

Well, enough said and done. I’d recommend you to get into the episode and give it a listen. A narration of the article is included in the episode itself, but if you wish to read it beforehand, here’s a link to it again – unselfing.social by Maria Popova

The entire episode is only an 11 minute listen. And it’s absolutely worth it.

I’ll see you in the playground.

To more unlearning and more unselfing.

Until next time.

Peace out.

Check out the episode on The Unlearning Playground YouTube channel here