We have the pleasure of pleasing ourselves.
I give myself pleasure by pleasing others.
The first is very obvious. The second is more refined. The second one is hidden, and hence dangerous. It can delude you. You can believe you are giving for the betterment of others, but instead it is your own betterment that is at issue.
Is there a true form of charity that does not involve selfishness? As you will see there is not, but there is a point where the selfishness is transformed. There is a saying: “A good is never so good as when you have no awareness that you are doing good”. The Sufi wise man says: “A saint is one until he or she knows it”. The key to true charity is to be unselfconscious! The key to living to is be unselfconscious. There is more on that to come!
Relationships have their own special brand of selfishness. Society tells you that you should love somebody at the cost of our happiness, and they should love you at the cost of their happiness. Don’t worry about what happiness means yet. Just consider it a state of general well-being. Does this sound crazy? Congratulations, this is a sign of being aware; realizing that you are crazy and everyone else is also crazy. We have those crazy ideas about love, relationships, happiness, joy and everything else.
Everything you do is out of your own self-interest when you are asleep. There are three kinds of selfishness:
I give myself the pleasure of pleasing myself
I give myself the pleasure of pleasing others
I do something good so there is not a bad feeling or guilt
The key to understanding self-interest is admitting that the second type of giving is refined, but is still a self-invested pleasure. Giving for reason #2 does not make you a great person. What does it make you? It only certifies that you have refined taste in selfishness. You wear cologne instead of aftershave lotion. Don’t take pride in this!
The third type of selfishness is the source of the self-sacrificing idea of love. “I do this only because it makes you happy.” The action may give me no direct satisfaction, but your happiness is my happiness. You are my happiness. Do you see the craziness here? This kind of selfishness is destructive to the person practicing it, and any relationships it is used in.
Think of all the good deeds you have done.
Understand that it sprung from self-interest
What happened to pride?
What happened to vanity?
What happened to good feeling you had?
Answer: it got flattened out. The air was taken out of it. Where did the air go? It wasn’t there to begin with.
Conclusion: You are no better than anyone else in the world. People merely have varying tastes and manners.
This is very liberating. You can realize that you are openly selfish. Jesus had more trouble with those who thought they were good than those who thought they were sinners.
Think if a person or institution that operates under the assumption that you are there to serve it. The well-being of the person or institution is dependent on your attention. Your own happiness or unhappiness does not matter.
Think of a person or institution that you “serve” because of the security it provides to your life.
What feelings do you have in reaction to these relationships?
Are you doing something good so you will not have a bad feeling or to prevent a bad thing happen in your life?
Before self-condemnation kicks in, it is very important to realize that Selfishness = Self-preservation. Can you opt not to be selfish? No – that is like wishing to be non-being. Selfishness is instinctive and part of your survival. Don’t feel bad about selfishness. You, I, we all are the same.
IMPORTANT RULES FOR SELFISHNESS:
Expect the worst – you are dealing with selfish people
Remember people are as bad as you
If we remember this you will:
Never be disillusioned
Never “let down”
Never feel rejected
Congratulations, you are becoming aware now. Where does this leave the aware person? You can now:
Expect yourself and others to be selfish
See your own self-interest - refined or course.
Here is an important memory device if you are feeling stressed out by the actions of others and you forget the rules of selfishness:
I am an ass, you are an ass, so where’s the problem?