Let me ask you one question: who is the most important person in your life?
In your shoes, in your perspective, in your world, in your mirror of reality, is there anyone more significant than you, for you?
Even if you are tempted to think it is your spouse or child or parents or lover or whoever, nonetheless, those people are important to YOU becaue you are viewing them through YOUR perspective, your mirror of reality; they cause your experiences of life. Can you ever do anything at all for another without causing your self to experience something in return? Is such a thing even possible? You cannot help but see through the eyes of the self only!
Everything I do, I do for myself. Nothing in my world is real. Nothing has any meaning other than the meaning I give to it. I am who I say I am and my experience is what I say it is. I am making it all up, all the time. When I think I am giving another, I am essentially causing myself to get. When I believe I am loving another, I am actually loving me. Because there is no other, but the self only!
Because you exist, the universe exists for you! If you cease to exist then there is nothing for you to experience anymore, no self, no others. Hence everyone is selfish. Everyone is doing everything all the time, that somehow serves themselves. Even if it means generously doing something for someone, in a so-called selfless act, it still causes the giver to experience generosity, feel content or joy in the process. So then that is selfish. True selflessness does not exist.
Everything that you do for another causes you to have an experience of yourself, through that another’s platform. In a simplistic example, let’s say you have come to this physical life to have an experience of generosity. In the absolute realm there is only knowing, no experience. Hence you have a knowledge of what generous is, but only in the physical plane you can have an experience of it, which in turn causes a feeling. Feelings are the language of our soul. And so, knowledge, experience and feeling combined, completes your knowing of the thing called “generous”. So now you see a beggar on the street. You reach for your pocket. The beggar is causing you to experience generosity. So isn’t that a selfish act? At a higher level, you have caused the beggar to be there on your path so you can have an experience of generosity that makes you feel happy, and thus your knowledge about generosity is now complete, coupled with experience and feeling. This is how we evolve here on earth, we self-realize, we come to a place of self-knowledge. Everything you do, give, feel, sense, recognize is happening through you. And here’s where it gets interesting: you and the beggar are one! In the absolute realm there is no separation. So whatever you are doing for the beggar, you are actually doing it for you, for the self!
There is NO SUCH THING as a purely selfless act. Such a thing is impossible in creation. Everyone, that acts in any way, be it at an individual or global level is doing so to serve the self, in some way or the other. Like ‘generosity’, people have incarnated for all sorts of physical experiences and soul agendas. So in the larger sense every act on this planet has been, is and will be selfish! The man that goes to war sacrificing his own life is doing so, because his greater desire is to see his country free or his family out of bondage or whatever other feeling he chooses to experience in the act. So that desire fuels his choices, then it is not truly selfless anymore. If you see that we are all connected, then you will expand the definition of the self to see that everybody does everything that somehow or the other serves their own soul agendas; so that is not selfless, because at some level it serves them; hence selfish. Be it a macroscopic or myopic perspective, every soul is here on earth serving its own agenda and purpose. The father that sacrifices his time and pleasures to cater to those of his child, or the mother that sacrifices her own needs and desires for the sake of her children does so because they see the child as a part of themselves, not apart. So in essence they are serving themselves only, which is selfish. Similarly, in a larger context, when a person “sacrifices” themselves in a selfless act for the higher good of humanity, it is because they see the rest of humanity as an extension of themselves. That’s why their action is also not selfless; it is in fact very selfish and self-centered. And that’s how it is supposed to be! Only the points of view are different. The father sees himself in his children i.e. his immediate family, and Mother Teresa or whoever you wish to glorify here, sees herself in her children (humanity). The energy, vibration, of the two in perspective are essentially the same; just that one holds the macrocosm and the other holds the microcosm.
So then the question boils down to the definition of ‘self’. How large is the self in your perception? Some people think they themselves are all that self is, whereas others can include a family in their definition of self, still others may include the entire humanity as a definition of self. The first is called selfish whereas the final is called selfless in our society. But both are essentially operating from the same space energetically, an act that serves their own soul agendas. Are you understanding this?
You have come into this physical life to have an experience of YOU. Denying the self, sacrificing the self, abandoning the self, rejecting the self, or escaping the self in the name of selflessness are all acts of self-sabotage, self-betrayal and usually backfire. Many so-called enlightened gurus and masters teach about selflessness being the righteous path. They will tell you to make sacrifices and do so happily. Sacrifice is about denying the self something and instead giving it to another. When we do that, we are causing great harm to ourselves and another at an energetic level. Eventually no one will be happy with that sacrifice. And it will make you resentful in the long run. Instead when you understand that everyone is essentially an extension of your self, then you will know inherently that we are all one, that there is no separation between you and others in the larger sense of things. So then you’ll think twice before adopting an attitude of selflessness because you will know that by denying yourself, you also deny others in the process. Selfishness should be your highest priority, because only by giving the self, aligning yourself with your own truth, manifesting your desires, meeting your own needs, loving yourself, can you love another, can you truly give another without feeling drained, can you realize the self. Until then all acts of giving has a hidden agenda, an ulterior motive; maybe you are trying to get love, or attention or something else when you engage in the act of giving. Because, when the self is suffering, giving at the cost of yourself, self-sacrificing all in the name of selflessness… it is not noble or holy or righteous by any means. It is, in fact, self-hate. But when you define the self, including everyone else in it too, then the equation changes. Because you now look at all else as a part of you, and you will truly genuinely want to help another in need, as well as give the same to you should you need it without getting caught up in definitions of selflessness or selfishness, without judging the process. It will come naturally to you.
Before going to a guru, I would always check with myself and how I feel about their teachings; whether it is teaching me to expand or contract, to renounce any part of me or embrace all parts of me, to love or fear… and my feelings will indicate the truth to me because feelings are the language of the soul. But we don’t stop to tune in to our feelings, instead believe someone outside of ourselves knows more than us. That is not true. Everyone has the capacity to listen to their inner divine, to develop their own intuitions. Our biggest guides or gurus are actually residing inside of us. But we live in a society that never teaches us how to hone our own intuitions and instead the external gurus worshipped set down the rules, dogmas, dictates, definitions or so called holy ways of being which people try so hard to follow and fail; because by doing so they reject their own internal guidance systems thus taking them farther and farther away from their own selves. Selfishness is the biggest misconstrued word in today’s world and because of its derogatory connotation, there is so much suffering among people, who are confused because their internal world says one thing and the external says another, and when these two worlds are not aligned, conflict stems. Nothing is separate from the self. When you know that everyone is a part of the self, essentially that we are all one, you will never deny yourself, in the name of being at service or seva for another. Because when you do that or even think that, you separate yourself from others. You dissociate. And that is the opposite of integration, self-realization. So while doing seva for another the self must be given the highest priority. There is a reason the mother needs to put on the oxygen mask in the airplane before she fits the mask for her child!
Meet your needs
Think of it as an empty or partially filled glass. When my own glass is empty, and I try to give to another, I will feel depleted. The act of giving would carry a latent intention of me trying to fill my own glass externally, to fill the void within me with external things. And because I’m coming from a place of lack, that glass will actually never be filled. The universe will keep mirroring back to me an empty glass. Whereas if I first meet my own needs, accept my desires, align with my inner being and give myself the love, the appreciation, the approval, the acceptance, the things I want, the gratification I desire without causing my wants to be wrong, then my glass will become full up to the brim, and when I try to put more water in it, it will spill out of the glass. This is the excess water that I now have that I can then happily and generously give to another without feeling depleted, devoid or drained because my glass is full. But when my own glass is empty and I try to fill another’s glass, eventually I’ll run out of water and become resentful.
If you are not selfish enough to figure out what will satisfy you, then you have not connected with your inner essence, you have not recognized the divine force within you, you are not tuned to the cosmic consciousness for your wisdom and guidance, you are not in the fullness of your true self and anything less than yourself is just not enough for others. But when you fill your own cup and return to them you will be different. You are not jittery, edgy, freaky, bitter, resentful, or complaining. You are more fun to be with, in vibrational alignment with your inner ding. You will feel spontaneous and light-hearted in your interaction with others. And that is a great place to be!
A lot of people equate self-sacrifice or selflessness to love. But essentially that kind of selflessness causes one to self-abandon and abandoning or escaping the self is not the route to self-realisation. When you understand the definition of the self you would never proclaim that selflessness is the righteous path. Self-denial is denial nevertheless. Self-betrayal is betrayal of the highest form. It comes from a place of self-hate, not self-love. And the universe mirrors that back to us. Especially in relationships, women in many households are expected to sacrifice their needs, their desires, their dreams, their career for the well-being of the family all in the name of love. A lot of Indian women as well as those in other parts of the world live by this principle. But if she continues to engage in over-giving, self-abondoning tendencies, she would eventually become resentful, depressed and prolonged compromise of her self would create bitterness, a distaste for life, never truly being happy, always complaining, jittery, manifesting chronic diseases like diabetes which carries the vibration of unhappiness. And it even takes away the spark from the relationship where the partner will often take her for granted or won’t value her sacrifice.
Do you think any one person in a relationship needs or even wants the sacrificial love of another? No! That disrespects both aspects of divinity in the connection, and keeps the sacrificing person in a victim mindset. Either the partner at the receiving end will resist and leave in order to find a healthier connection or perpetuate the dynamic by taking away personal power from the sacrificial partner in order to feed his/her own state of powerlessness. This is exactly the victim-villan dynamic that perpetuates in abusive relationships. In actuality, there are no victims and no villains. The one who ‘self-sacrifices’, actually self-abandons. And no aspect of divinity inherently will allow that or need it. So the one who self-sacrifices will find herself/himself in victim states of consciousness, experiencing powerlessness in relationships, repeatedly until he/she can reclaim some of their personal power, which is necessary to draw healthy boundaries in any partnership. Remember, as much as we are all one, we have created this separateness and each other in order to experience our oneness within the contrasts of the physical plane. That is where, the ego actually plays a huge role, because it gives us our sense of self and identity, and provides for us the contextual field to eventually experience oneness. We are the created and the creator, divinity in physicality!
Yes it is wonderful to do charity and volunteer/non-profit work as long as it contents your soul, but if one does it at the expense of himself/herself, like some kind of self-sacrifice, it usually backfires and instead of bringing contentment, it brings disappointment, an illusion of happiness. If your motive is to bring value to other people’s lives, remember your life is valuable too and you need to stand up for that, so if you’re helping someone, you are also helped in the process, and that is healthy. In fact any kind of healthy transaction is always mutually beneficial, symbiotic. God has never asked people to sacrifice themselves and give up their all to be of service to others. Only when your own glass is full and you feel inspired to help another, reach out and do good things. That is when it’ll add meaning to your life and to theirs. But when you do it out of a place of lack, trying to fill your own cup, it will bring emptiness, not happiness.
Try not to abandon your self. You will be glad you did so…