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Stepping out of the stream of self-interest & self-centredness

Jun 01, 2005 08:38 AM
by kpauljohnson

--- In, "prmoliveira" <prmoliveira@y...> 
> --- In, "kpauljohnson" 
> wrote:
Dear Pedro,

You asked:

> A question for you: why is it that, at the end of the day, it is so 
hard to step out of the stream of self-interest and self-centredness?
and my reply, as usual influenced by a recently read book, is that 
this is not an inherent part of the human condition, but it is 
inherent in the circumstances of modern life. We are so atomized now, 
with so little in the way of social support networks, that people 
think of themselves in isolation from family, community, or nation. 
The book Undoing Perpetual Stress by Richard O'Connor helped me 
realize how unprepared we are as a species for the kinds of stresses 
we face daily. Here's part of the Publisher's Weekly review:

According to psychotherapist O'Connor (Undoing Depression), the human 
brain and nervous system cannot process the constant stress that is 
accepted as inevitable today, resulting in an alarming rise in chronic 
illness, depression and anxiety. Using current mind/body research, he 
shows how the brain and nervous system respond to stress; how the body 
manifests these changes; and how negative patterns become vicious 
cycles of mental, emotional and physical illness. O'Connor says there 
are many studies implicating stress as a major factor in heart 
disease, diabetes, cancer and such difficult to treat conditions as 
chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia, but the health-care 
establishment hasn't been able to adequately help patients make the 
lifestyle modifications needed for lasting change. To that end, he 
suggests mindfulness techniques to help readers identify mental and 
emotional programming and defense mechanisms, make healthy choices and 
form life-affirming habits.


Among the items I found most interesting is that several generations 
back, most people on the planet encountered only the same few hundred 
individuals in their immediate vicinity, and meeting a stranger was 
unusual. Today most people are constantly bombarded with a stream of 
new strangers, and this creates stress that manifests in a variety of 

Perhaps back in the "good old days" people were as constantly fretting 
about their own individual lives as they are now, but I think they 
felt much more securely embedded in a social support network and 
therefore were more altruistic in their thoughts and feelings.



PS-- If the question was specifically directed at me, the better 
answer would be "because theosophical cyberspace is the only place 
I know of where `K. Paul Johnson' has been regularly attacked, which 
makes it hard to step out of that stream of self-consciousness here."


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