- Everyone gained. Mum was glad that the children and husband were fed. Dad was happy that his family will survive another day. The children knew that their parents love them and went away fuelled for another bout of playing and growing.
- Almost no-one gained not even Johnny for more than a few minutes. He lost respect from his family and is still hungry and ill.
- Everyone gained. The family and the neighbours. Who could not be moved by someones gift of help and sharing?
Wednesday, 27 February 2013
I guess to understand this word we need to understand also what it is not. Commonly Self-less-ness is the antithesis of selfishness. Self is all about you the person questioning your-self. You see, it is difficult to talk about it without using the word self to describe itself. You or in this case ME as I am writing this and thinking about how it all relates to me, are/am the object of analysis for the purpose of determining what actions are good and wholesome and those that are negative and possibly even destructive, self destructive.
It is very true that I need to consider myself first. How else am I going to be or do what I indeed want to. But this is only true for me in certain senses though. If you don't consider your-self then how can you begin to think that you could do anything to help another. And why would they take any notice of you if you did offer advice or help, if they saw that it had no influence over your own person in the first instance. Who can believe that anyone would take notice of a person not putting their own words or beliefs into action personally?
But in what ways is it appropriate to consider yourself first without it being an act of selfishness? Thus being truly selfless, which I hope to discover as being the most worthy of goals and habits towards sharing.
Well firstly if I had no regard for my person, the body, not only would I be showing disrespect to the miracle of life, but to others who had to come into contact with me, my-self. Imagine the smell, the rank odour of my breath and the unkempt nature of my clothing, if I was even conscious enough of other peoples feelings to be wearing any. So of course, personal hygiene and manner of dress can have significant impact over whether people ignore us or interact with us. Yet it is more about our reason for this manner than the manner in and of itself. I don't recoil when I see punk rockers or tattooed people for example, but I might if they smelt awful. Or if I thought they were doing it because they had no respect for life or limb. I try to dress in a manner which is attractive to people so as to not offend, whilst still being true to my own personal tastes. And I wash regularly so as not to offend peoples nostrils with any offensive odours, out of pure decency. In a way this is an act of self for self, that is selfless in its outcomes.
Another thing I tend to pay attention to, is what comes out of my mouth. It is wonderful to have views and opinions and they can be very interesting to some, but they may also have a negative affect over some people. I try to maintain a healthy balance of what to say and what not to, based on current circumstances and audience. It is not selfish to have views or opinions, but it might be considered selfish to air them to all and sundry, without considering their take on what those words and views express. I don't use the word 'nigger' for example as a matter of course because I understand that it is commonly viewed as derogatory towards some people and therefore can offend them. So my choice of dialogue shows my respect for others above my own feeling that any word used, in a non offensive manner can be a part of vocabulary. (I chose this particular word, not because I ever use it, but just to show what offence can mean. I love all people of all races and skin colours equally.)
And so I see now that to be selfless I need to consider the feelings of others ahead of my own personal need to say something. Yet to be selfish I would chose any type of vocabulary and dialogue over the feelings and a deep sense of respect towards other sentient beings.
(If you are reading this then it is as a choice you make, and therefore anything my words imply can be monitored for your own sensibilities. Obviously if you don't like what I am discussing then you clearly don't have to read on.)
Are you still here?
Good, then lets continue.
I am understanding that selfishness comes form a deep seated view of self importance. How we got to be this way is anybody's guess, childhood traumas or bad parenting or peer pressure or plain old bad judgement making. But we have to start with where we are at now. I have been putting my mark on readjusting my thoughts for a very long time now, with the sole aim of becoming a better person. Better than before, not better than anyone else of course. Better because I realise that some of my past behaviours were very personally gratifying and self destructive and not good to man nor beast on many occasions. Therefore selfish and not selfless in essence. I have no desire to live that way now. I have lost out on many very precious things because of this behaviour. But I suppose being the product of my experience has taught me a valuable lesson, one that I hope to share if you care to read on.
SELFISHNESS IS STUPID.
Everyone suffers when someone is being selfish. Look at the plight of the hungry on this planet for example. The bloody wars over dirt, dust and rock and a few miles of 'Holy' land.
Closer to home, when someone has a bad attitude they suffer and those around them suffer equally. No-one escapes from selfishness, but everyone gains from selflessness. Just lets say this again, because I feel it captures the spirit of what I want to share here.
NO-ONE ESCAPES FROM SELFISHNESS, BUT EVERYONE GAINS FROM SELFLESSNESS.
Ah yes that seems to carry the truth of my belief.
Let me explain this a little more clearly for those of you that may wish to shake your heads at this. Lets pick a few examples to describe the workings of it. Bear in mind we all have other tangible explanations for things. We wouldn't be human otherwise, or have governments to lead us.
As a family we sit down to a meal. It has been prepared by mum and dad carves the meat and every ones mouth waters in anticipation of the glorious feast. We fill our plates and say our graces and give thanks for what we are about to receive. We eat heartily and the food is divine as it crosses our palate on its way to restoring our hunger. The food tastes wonderful (or not depending on your mothers skills in the kitchen) and then your joy is enhanced by the company of close family and friends, sharing the event, the food and everyone feels sustained for the food and maybe the company too. (If you get along with your siblings.) The time spent has given everyone much if not all of what they needed to go on living another day, in good health with a happy and contented outlook on life. You may not agree with this example for many reasons, I just use it to describe a typical ideal set of experiences.
Everyone sits down to eat as before. The food is brought out but there is hardly any to go round and be shared out, as it would appear that little Johnny (poor kid always gets it) has eaten most of it earlier. He explains, after much insistence from everyone else, that he couldn't wait and was so hungry that he began to tuck in whilst they were all sitting patiently in the other room and 'Mum' was called out on an errand. He got carried away as he ate and before he knew it was rushing off to the bathroom to be sick. He had eaten too much. At this point dad is called to restrain the other siblings from lynching Johnny. They all eat quickly, after all there is hardly any left, and leave the table with less thanks than scenario 1 and a stomach rumbling from part emptiness.
As before everyone sits down to eat. They give thanks, but someone happens to mention that the family next door who's dad lost his job a month ago and who's mother is ill with worry, have not eaten for a week. Everyone agrees that they should go and invite the family over to eat, which they do. Extra places are set and once everyone is seated they all give a huge thank you to the powers that be for providing not only food, but company and a chance to prove that their humanity is at work. Everyone present becomes grateful in different ways and amounts, but everyone leaves that table with a joy in their hearts, even if a little hungry still. Tomorrow is another day and more food can be sourced.
Lets have a quick recap of who gained and suffered in these scenarios.
So I hope that this shows us all just how the art of selfishness can cause unnecessary suffering for others and ourselves too. The act of selflessness is something that everyone can benefit from. I try daily to look beyond my own needs and see what others needs and wants are and try to help in whatever way I can fulfil these and share humanity with them. Clearly there are many of you out there doing the exact same thing, so thank you for that. I am benefiting from that action even if not directly, as surely as the person you touch. And if you are wondering what more you can do to share and be selfless, all I say is this. Just keep your eyes and ears open and soon enough you will see or hear a way to do so. You will be rewarded by the knowledge that your actions have meant a difference to that person. They may not thank you or know that you have helped them, but that is not important. You will know. And of course I hope the reason for doing it is not to receive accolades, but if they come, accept them when offered. It is a part of the cycle of giving, sharing and receiving.
I pray that I go away from here charged to do more than I thought possible. If you are also helped to be more proactive then my mission is complete.
A huge hug for your efforts. (In advance, or retrospectively)
love and light...