The Freedom of Selflessness

Selfishness leads to slavery; selflessness leads to freedom.

Selfishness is slavery; selflessness is freedom.

To be selfish is to be self-serving. In other words, a selfish person is one who’s thoughts and actions tend to be primarily about pleasing himself. This greatly limits that person’s options when it comes time for decision making. If he is so driven to serve himself, he will not consider any options which do not appear to be able to fulfill his self-serving desire. He is, thereby, enslaved by his very desire to serve himself. Though the restriction on his freedom is self-imposed, it is slavery nonetheless.

To be selfless is to think and act regardless of self. Do not make the mistake of thinking that to be selfless means to act contrary to your self. “Contrary” and “Regardless” are not synonyms. A selfless person may very well think and act in a manner that is pleasing to himself. The point is, the thought or action was motivated regardless of the impact on self. By thinking and acting regardless of self, one is free to choose from all options.

He is completely free who is able to consider all options, and choose regardless of external influence.

I felt compelled to write this current post after reading http://gregwooster.wordpress.com/2013/05/24/169/

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7 Comments

  1. I have always been a person who put others before myself. I give until I literally run out of steam. Then I have to find someone to latch onto to replenish me. It’s an unhealthy pattern that I’m learning to let go of. I’m finding that being “Self” centered (or focused on my True Self as I like to think of it) is the least selfish thing I can do. I find that when I take care of me and learn more about my soul’s intentions and my personal gifts that I’m more capable of sharing myself with others, without forming dependency.

    I really like what you said in this post, I just felt the need to share my story.

    Namaste, Have a beautiful day.

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    1. There is a gray line that divides being selfless from being other-centered. Being other-centered is unhealthy and puts you at risk of neglecting yourself. Being selfless does not require that you focus on others. Being selfless does not require neglecting yourself. Selflessness only requires that you act regardless of yourself. It can be very tempting, especially for us rescuers, to cross the line from selflessness to being other-centered.

      That being said, it is true that in order to be able to share yourself with others, you need to have an actual “you” to share. That is where the gray line between selflessness and selfishness appears. Again, selflessness does not mean that you neglect yourself. In fact, there will hopefully be several moments in a “selfless” person’s life that he or she works on themselves. The key is not to be motivated out of selfishness (that is, acting in favor of yourself regardless of all else). The key is to not be driven by extremes. Just as it is unhealthy to be driven solely by the urge to help others, it is unhealthy to be driven solely by the urge to help yourself. Thank you for bringing up self-neglect. It is very important to remember there are two ends to this spectrum (that spectrum being selfishness to other-centeredness).

      Instead of purposely acting either in-line with or contrary to either end of the spectrum, I must learn to live regardless of the spectrum.

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      1. Beautiful insights. Thank you for sharing. It is helpful to talk about these things as I navigate through the extremes and try to find equilibrium in my own soul and in my actions.

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    1. Acting contrary to one’s self entails (1) identifying what you desire, (2) judging that desire as a negative in and of itself, and (3) acting in opposition to that desire as a result of that negative judgment.

      Now, you could say that it is really your desire to act in opposition to your desire. Well, that’s true, but that just means that it is your desire to act against the benefit of yourself, simply because you judge any sort of “benefit of yourself” negatively.

      So, now we’re really back to being selfish, aren’t we? I mean, if your judgment is that acting contrary to one’s self is the right way to act, then you are (in a round about way) acting selfish by ensuring yourself that you won’t fall down that nasty whole of selfishness. Instead, I’ll just act contrary to myself at all times, thereby guaranteeing my righteousness. I’m so great.

      Now I’m a slave to my false selflessness.

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      1. I think you nailed it. I think that’s something to keep ourselves in check about. It’s a form of, or at least very similar to, false humility. I know I have thought in this line of thinking too often. Thank you for spelling it out.

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