On a first analysis it seems that we are in front of a concept, a way of life, or a guide line to lead a better and richer life. At least from the spiritual point of view.
1) Forget yourself (in order to serve and grow)
Self forgetfulness is a beguiling concept. No doubt it has a powerful influence on the emotional or mystical side. It could be something like this: If we only could forget ourselves we could be so generous, so self less, and thus live a richer spiritual life. There are even tons and tons of quotations and spiritual instructions that convey this idea. For instance: He who gives his life for me will have eternal life.
There is no question that this approach is right and it does set us in a path for spiritual development and growth. That is a fact.
Yet, it is only part of the truth, and only one way to walk the spiritual path. It has a powerful meaning, but it is geared to the emotional plane and probably the lower mind. When forgetfulness is taken on board from these two planes of knowledge it may be very appealing and at times, appalling. It may rise doubts and steer us into a “grey area” that we may believe it is right for there is so much in the mystic realm that we can not understand, so, if we can not understand, we often believe we are the ones with the short coming and we are the ones that need to grow and learn. True, but also misleading. Not all grey areas have a mystical side to them. They are not necessarily due to our incapacity to grasp reality and truth.
We all need to evolve and we all learn along the way, and things that were dark or grey become clear and illuminated. That is also a fact of life. But we can not confused and think of these two facts as one and the same.
We may be facing a particular kind of mystical experience were things are not fully understood, but not because we are in front of a bigger truth that we can not (yet) grasp. We may just be confused and in the middle of an illusion: Nothing more.
Self-forgetfulness may be one of these confusing illusions. While it is wise not to be egoistic and self centred. While true development comes from sacrifice (another word that needs analysis for it should be removed from the emotional plane of suffering and self neglect), and group consciousness, self-forgetfulness may have nothing to do with our spiritual growth and proper actions.
Self-forgetfulness is a truth that is worthwhile consideration from an emotional and lower mind outlook. It is there to prevent us from being egoistic and self centred. It opens us up to a different consideration of reality and our interaction with it and specially with fellow men. From that point of view, it is a very useful concept and guide line. It is a call for inclusive considerations and life endeavour.
2) Be Yourself! (don't forget it)
Nevertheless, if we consider Self-forgetfulness from a different perspective, it may seem pointless and an illusion. When we view reality form a different level, there is no real separateness between ourselves and “the rest”: the world, fellow men, plants, atoms,... We perceive that we are all One, regardless of the apparent differences. The self is no different than “the rest”. Therefore, there can be no real self-forgetfulness for, what are we going to “forget”? From an inclusive and uniting point of view all is one, all is unity. The self then has a different consideration, we are talking about a different entity and therefore it has a reality that may not be forsaken. This real self should be very present and we should remind ourselves of its existence, even endeavour to become one with it: Be yourself! So it doesn’t make sense to forget the self.
It may seem as a riddle, but it is not. It has to do with the level from which we consider what the self is and thus the need or not to forget it, to neglect it, to overcome it. When the self is an illusion, (mostly when it is consider form the emotional or lower mind plane), then we should forget about it in order to evolve. When the self is consider from another perspective and is view as unity, (as the uniting factor or quality), then we can not forget or dispose of this self. Only through this self better understanding and action may occur. We are ourselves, and to recognise this truth and live accordingly is one of the signs of spiritual growth and evolution.
a) Self-forgetfulness is a good guide line when considered from a purely emotional, lower mind perspective that gives way to separateness. The illusion that causes the separateness to appear as real has to go; the self has to be forgotten and place under soul guidance.
b) If we envision the self from a different perspective from where it reveals the unity of things and thus avoids separateness and illusion, that self should be sought. It is the real self. The self were true light, love and life emanate. We must not forget it!
PS. Could the same be said of desire?