At this time of the year many people make a resolution, which is often short-lived, to embark upon some sort of self-improvement program or to give up some bad habit. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am all for personal transformation, but there is a right, and a wrong, way to go about it, both in thought, word and deed.
The reason the good ‘I’ can’t change the bad ‘I’ is because they are one and the same. Worse still, both ‘I’s’ are illusory. When I use the word 'illusory' I am not saying these 'I's' do not exist. They do exist---but only as self-image in our mind. The 'I's' are, however, illusory in the sense that they are not what they appear to be. All the 'I's' and 'me's' in your mind are brought about by thought, and they have no reality in and of themselves. They appear to be 'solid,' 'fixed,' and 'permanent,' but they are not. They are, as the Indian spiritual philosopher J. Krishnamurti used to say, the product of thought which divides.
The only program of self-improvement that has any chance at all of being successful is one where the person that each one of us is makes a decision to invoke the power of one’s own personhood. That power is not of self; it is a ‘power-not-oneself.’ Self can’t change self, for all our mental selves are in and of themselves not only powerless but also contradictory and in opposition to each other. Hence the need to rely upon a power-not-oneself---the power that comes from being a person among persons.
Now, what is a person? Well, the well-known English philosopher P F Strawson [pictured right] wrote much on the subject. Strawson articulated a concept of ‘person’ in respect of which both physical characteristics and states of consciousness can be ascribed to it. Each one of us is a person among persons---a mind-body complex. We are much, much more than those hundreds of little, false selves---all those waxing and waning ‘I’s’ and ‘me’s’---with which we tend to identify, in the mistaken belief that they constitute the ‘real me,’ that is, the person each one of us is. Only the latter is ontologically real. Personal freedom and real personal transformation come when we get real, that is, when we start to think, act and live from our personhood as a person among persons. We need to get our mind off our ‘selves’ and rise above them if we are to get real. And remember this---there is no human problem that is not common to other persons among persons.
GIVING UP SMOKING WITH MINDFULNESS