Western culture has become very cozy with selfishness and self-centeredness, even to the point of making them a virtue. We always hear admonitions like “Take care of yourself first,” or “Just tell yourself that you deserve it.” In contrast to our self-absorbed, Western approach to life, Zen Buddhist and psychiatrist Barry Magid writes,
“Zen, on the other hand, is more likely [than psychoanalysis] to directly confront and challenge the old patterns or organizing principles that constitute our self-centeredness. The difficulties inherent in Zen practice (the emotional and physical stress of long hours of sitting), and the conceptual quandaries that arise by having our usual frame of reference radically challenged by the seeming incomprehensibility of a nondualist, nonessentialist perspective as encapsulated in koans, all combine to undermine preexisting modes of organizing and mastering experience.” (Buddhadharma, Winter 2007, 51)
Read full article on LTW blog here.