Reunion with Reality

Selfish or selfless


What is worship? To realize reality. . . .

What is reality? Seflessness. . . .

Freedom from self . . .


    Ansari of Heart



We know what it means to be selfish. It’s hard not to be selfish in a culture that presents itself as a zero-sum game. We are conditioned to compete with others, to exalt ourselves over others, to climb to the top of the mountain and plant our flag.


In the current worldview of modern culture, we have been conditioned to think that survival of the fittest is nature’s law, that evolution favors those whose genes give them advantage over others. We are taught that the best motivation is personal advancement. This is a worldview that justifies domination and oppression as natural behaviors. It presents gender, racial, ethnic, and economic inequities as normal and natural.


Modern evolutionary science has come to a different notion. There is evolutionary favor in cooperation. Symbiotic relationships between species are good examples, perhaps even appropriate role models. “Living together” and cooperating with each other is even more valuable in cultural evolution than in biological evolution.


Still, there is a yet higher mode of being in relationship that may be a goal as well as a means of evolution: selflessness.


We need only look to those around us who work to make the world a better place, not only for themselves, but for all of us.


Selfless people can be found everywhere, if not in every family, in most, probably on every block, at least in every community. They are the good souls that build communities and breathe life into neighborhoods. It’s not that they ignore their own welfare, but that they understand that their welfare is caught up in that of all those around them. They do not ignore their own needs, they see them fulfilled by meeting the needs of others. They take care of themselves because they know that in order to serve others, they must be well-cared for themselves.


These are the selfless: who know themselves and so know others, who serve themselves so they can serve others, who give of themselves to others and thereby receive from others all they need.


They live in joy. They are whole. They live in union with life.


It’s not that they don’t suffer, it’s that they don’t take it personally. They don’t get trapped in it. They look over it to the horizon.


I bet we all know people like this.



Copyright 2017 James Phoenix

updated 9/24/2017