Can anyone really be selfless?

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Re: Can anyone really be selfless?

Postby Sabina » Thu Apr 15, 2010 1:26 am

Ok, but I again disagree. (Shocking, I know)
I think the problem is in the definition of the word and people's misusage as well as oversimplification of the word selfless.

You can do things with little concern for yourself.
You can do things primarily thinking of someone else.
Such acts are selfless by nature.

It doesn't mean that you will stomp clear across yourself just because you are thinking of someone else. That would be an exaggeration and like you said, totally abnormal. Personality disorder, definitely...
And, it doesn't mean that there isn't some thought of yourself when you do something selflessly, but it is simply not the primary objective, that is all.
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Re: Can anyone really be selfless?

Postby dermot » Thu Apr 15, 2010 8:40 pm

I have read the posts, and without commenting on whats been said...... i do think there are numerous examples of people being completely selfless. They are extreme, but indicate a truly selfless nature nevertheless......i think

I used to know a guy who helped the coastguard as a voluntary diver.
In the dead of night, along a craggy coastline, during a strom, with the tide coming in, he volunteered to bring a lifeline to a small boat stuck in a cave. The danger was enormous, and time a huge factor with the tide filling the cave and waves making it doubly dangerous.
He brought the line to the boat, and was found the next day washed up on a beach. He had a wife and a child he doted on.

Totally selfless?
Yes.
....the heart only whispers, be still and listen....
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Re: Can anyone really be selfless?

Postby Heidi » Thu Apr 15, 2010 11:04 pm

Sabina,
The story of you, your 9-year-old cousin, your cat and rabbit was really moving. Of course you did not do anything after thinking carefully about personal benefit and selfish motives. But it seems that this way you were fulfilling your life purpose. Your subconscious self knew what it was good for you to do, help the little girl who was in need.

And this is exactly what you are doing now with this site. You have put great effort and gone into a lot of expenses to be helpful to others. You don't do it out of selfishness but it's not selfless either. This is your mission in life, whether you consciously realize it or not.
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Re: Can anyone really be selfless?

Postby Sabina » Thu Apr 15, 2010 11:40 pm

Thank you Heidi, but I am not convinced. :) I am trying to grasp the possibility that there is no such thing as selflessness, maybe you can help me out.

If selfless and selfish are the two opposites and the self in the center, balanced, well.. that makes sense.
If there is no selfless, then what is the self in between of?
Selfish and what else?
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Re: Can anyone really be selfless?

Postby Heidi » Fri Apr 16, 2010 12:15 am

The way I perceive the whole thing is as follows.

Selfish is the person who does something for personal gain. There are people who only act this way. It's their level of development during this life. Their self is the center of everything and people severely criticize or even hate them. But they have to go through this stage. I think we all do in one of our lifetimes.

Self is in the middle. It is us as individuals, whoever we are, whatever level of development we belong to.

Selfless is the state of acting without thinking of personal gain. We see it as the opposite of selfish, and believe that whoever acts this way does not help themselves, but their level of development has gone past selfishness and now it's time to offer and help, and this is the way to help themselves at the same time. It comes from inside, they cannot resist the urge of helping or saving someone, like the guy in Dermot's story, but in fact they are just carrying out inner orders.

I don't say that my opinion is the "truth." It's just the way I see it. It may be wrong...
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Re: Can anyone really be selfless?

Postby Sabina » Fri Apr 16, 2010 2:41 am

Heidi wrote:I don't say that my opinion is the "truth." It's just the way I see it. It may be wrong...

Neither do I! We all have somewhat different but also somewhat similar opinions, and discussing them is the whole beauty of getting to the Truth. It may not even be about finding the truth as much as it is about our ability and ways on how we get there.
I truly love that idea... that we are able to talk, disagree, and continue talking, intelligently, for the love of finding answers or maybe merely the love of the exploration itself.
So, thank you for replying and continuing.

First of all, I think it is important to acknowledge that the word selfless is quite "faulty" and confusing.
The whole -less extension implies "no self" yet the definition tells us something different.
When you are shoeless, that means you have no shoes.
It doesn't mean you have little shoes or a few shoes. It's none.. zip.
When you are clueless, you don't have a clue. Again, none whatsoever.
And so on.

Image


If selfless is on one end of the spectrum, with the Self still present, but merely to a lesser extent, then it also makes sense to assume that the extent could be different for different people, depending on how much they are developed mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

In that sense, something that one person considers a selfless act may well be that for them, from their point of view, while someone else doesn't see it as selfless at all, or possibly even sees it as selfish, so the opposite extreme.
Furthermore... people sometimes tend to project their own abilities onto others.
One person sees their emotional maximum as any human's emotional maximum, so they judge another's action as they would honestly judge their own.. based on their own motivation.
This I have been able to witness personally... and it is quite a sad sight, when one person says "You did this for egoistical reasons" and they simply say that because if they did it, then it would be only for egoistical reasons.

I know that neither David nor you where talking about selflessness from that point of view, so I am just elaborating... talking, brainstorming. I am not really trying to make any point right now. Maybe later. :)
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Re: Can anyone really be selfless?

Postby Ryan » Fri Apr 16, 2010 6:19 am

If you consider the "self" as always being present couldn't you define your "spectrum" as being "selfish" at one end and "generous" at the other? So... giving and taking... not really taking and not taking?
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Re: Can anyone really be selfless?

Postby Metatron » Fri Apr 16, 2010 1:28 pm

Ryan wrote:If you consider the "self" as always being present couldn't you define your "spectrum" as being "selfish" at one end and "generous" at the other? So... giving and taking... not really taking and not taking?


That was a bit confusing (to me), so a little bit of elaboration would help, so that I don't assume :P

In light of what has been said, this is pretty much as far as I'll go in admitting selflessness: We know we have instincts and our primary instinct is to live, no matter what. But we know what we are... Humans. We have gotten past instincts, we can create "new instincts", so to speak. Or simply just calm down the ones we have.

Our mind is strong. I do believe there are certain kinds of thought that are very powerful, so powerful indeed, that they can change the way the body works, or simply "create something that hasn't been there before". Mourning, sadness, happiness, desire... These are those extreme kinds of thought that can affect our body in several ways. What I'm trying to get to is this: I do believe that primarily, until a certain point in their lives, people are selfish. Simply selfish. I also do believethat this remains a part of us until we die. However... If the circumstances and our decisions shape us so, we can sort of "rewrite" this default program... It will still be running in the background, but our consciousness will deliberately try to persuade us, that what we are doing is indeed selfless. That the personal gains are completely put aside, even if on a subconscious level the personal gain will be taken into consideration.

Denying this would mean that there is no freedom, I must admit. It would mean we are prisoners of our own body, of our own bodies rules. And we know that the body is often very dumb... An example being stress and many other leftovers from previous stages of our evolution. The mind is so much more forward than the body. So basically anything is possible and we also know that what we really believe, becomes true to us *cough* religion *cough* :)

So my statement is that selflessness is possible and indeed very real for some indiviuals.
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Re: Can anyone really be selfless?

Postby mirjana » Fri Apr 16, 2010 1:55 pm

First post:
Metatron wrote:What is a selfless person? Do we really do anything without any personal gain? I mean, no matter what we do, ultimately, there is always some kind of a reward for an action....


Last post:
Metatron wrote:So my statement is that selflessness is possible and indeed very real for some individuals.

Help me with these two, please. For me they oppose each other, or...? Or, what would be the opposite to selfless, according to your idea of selflessness? I ask this as I think that maybe it the chosen word and what we understand under its meaning is the confusing part.

Ryan wrote:If you consider the "self" as always being present couldn't you define your "spectrum" as being "selfish" at one end and "generous" at the other? So... giving and taking... not really taking and not taking?

Ryan’s pointed very well about self that is always there, consciously or unconsciously. So, maybe really it is not the best chosen word…
Sabina wrote:
Image


If selfless is on one end of the spectrum, with the Self still present, but merely to a lesser extent, then it also makes sense to assume that the extent could be different for different people, depending on how much they are developed mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

In that sense, something that one person considers a selfless act may well be that for them, from their point of view, while someone else doesn't see it as selfless at all, or possibly even sees it as selfish, so the opposite extreme.
...

Talking about any pair of polarities means that in between there is a spectrum that estimates individual differences in that aspect. Left from Self toward selfless is the whole line of possibilities that put the person to be more that than the opposite, selfish, but still with big individual differences. As Edgar Cayce said, the level of consciousness is the limitation for understanding. Normally, the person closer to the selfless polarity should understand everything from that point that goes to the direction of self, as all the line is included in her/his level of understanding. The opposite is not possible.
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Re: Can anyone really be selfless?

Postby Ryan » Fri Apr 16, 2010 2:39 pm

I understand you... I agree with Sabina in that where the biggest confusion of things is the "less" suffix of the word "selfless" because in all other usages of the suffix it implies the complete lack of... whatever...

What is difficult for some of us to really wrap our heads around is that in any given situation you can take a number of people and they are all going to react differently... for example... a child is swimming and gets a cramp and starts to drown... you have 3 people on the beach...
    1. The first person doesn't know the child only has a cramp... but they hesitate because of a fear of sharks and they are quite cautious while approaching the child.
    2. The second person hears the scream for help runs to the edge of the water, sees where the child is, hesitates to make sure they are prepared and grabs a small inner tube to help keep them both afloat on their return swim to the beach.
    3. The third person hears the scream and just runs and jumps in the water and looks for the child as they are swimming out to them.
Are any of them less "selfless" than the other? I don't think so... there is always the self... the one who just reacts and jumps in is a spontaneous type and will probably react the same way in a lot of less serious situations. Are they concerned with themselves? In my opinion, certainly, they might not be concerned with whether or not they get injured doing the task, but I am willing to bet that the reason they are that way, is because of how they would be injured if they didn't react fast enough or they completely ignored the call for help.

So... my statement, that you asked me to elaborate upon, is clarifying Sabina's dilemma in that if selfishness is one extreme and if selflessness is not actually possible then what is the opposite extreme... and my answer would be that it is generosity... In my opinion the self is always present and is behind everything being done...

The only possible example I came up with to show absolute selflessness would be in the Metallica video "One" (which is actually old footage from a movie called "Johnny Got His Gun" 1971) where a war vet stepped on a land mine... lost his arms, legs, sight and speech... he wanted to die but was being kept alive... in my opinion that was an absolute selfless existence... a similar thing was in "Million Dollar Baby"...

I believe that the word "selfless" was created simply because saying someone did something with very little concern for themselves in a moment just didn't have the same "ring" as when saying that what they did was a completely selfless act so the "little" part was added to the definition.

Don't get me wrong... I don't mean to make little any grand acts of heroics... I just think that the reason they were able to do those acts were because of something having to do with their self... be it a philosophy, a guilt or regret where they didn't act, because they had nothing to lose and everything to gain, an innate state of being, or in order to avoid having regrets later on in life.
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