I had to become selfish before I could begin to experience selflessness.
Selflessness seemed always just beyond my grasp. It was only when I began saying no, and began recognizing when I was making choices out of obligation and then holding resentment for those choices, that I truly experienced love-of-self in a way that allowed selflessness to emerge. I have glimpsed it now, and in those moments when I am free of self, well, there are no words to describe the peace and joy I experience.
Often, this level of self-love (selfishness in the eyes of the world) is judged as not caring, and yet for me it is caring on a level I had not known. Caring the way I used to care – feeling the pain of others and joining in their suffering as if joining would diminish their pain – always brought less-than peaceful experiences with it. Caring in a way that sees past the pain and suffering, in a way that sees essence, innocence and invulnerability, brings joy and joining beyond comprehension.
That innocence, invulnerability, and joy need not be comprehended, only experienced.
I have come to realize that caring in the way the world defines it actually keeps me separated from others and increases my sense of isolation and detachment.
I realize the joy that comes when compassion outshines the suffering that masquerades as caring every time I am able to experience selflessness through selfishness.