Q&A – Is it possible to be totally unselfish?

Mohanji: Dear friends, welcome to Mohanji Speaks. These are answers to questions from listeners. Thank you for sending them. Keep sending them. I will try to answer them as best as I can.

Speaker: This question comes from a listener who asks, “How to be totally unselfish?” So, on the face of it, for him or her, people may think that they’re quite unselfish, but deep down, they know that this isn’t 100% true. The heart cannot even feel 100% gratitude or 100% love. So, it’s not total. What can be done to correct the situation?

Mohanji: Nobody is unselfish. We all are selfish in an absolute sense. But in daily life, we can choose to be selfless, that’s our choice. Why did I say that we are all selfish? Only one main reason, because we are karmic beings. What is karma? Primarily, unfulfilled desires. Unfulfilled desires mean desires which seek fulfillment. That means it’s selfish pleasures or selfish fulfilment, contentment, completion. In that context, all of us are selfish, right from childhood. From birth, till death, we are pursuing the completion of our own unfulfilled desires. So, when you look at this, every moment, it’s our satisfaction, our gratification, whatever the activity is. It could be any kind of desire; minor, major, small, big, easy to fulfill, difficult to fulfill, any type of desire, you name it. But it’s all for personal gratification. Where is contentment? Inside us. Where is satisfaction? Inside us. Where is happiness? Inside us. Where is joy, bliss? Everything is inside us. It’s our satisfaction, it’s our gratification. That means we are selfish.

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Then, there is this exaggerated version of selfishness, that is connected to things outside of us. Our need for things which are not ours, by merit. It means, we have a desire but we do not often deserve it. What comes to us is what we deserve not all that we desire. What we desire may happen at that time or may not happen as per our eligibility. Sometimes, what we desire happens immediately or sometimes in space and time, much later. A desire, if it is strong enough, if it cannot be fulfilled becomes a pending desire. And that’s the ingredient for further existence.

How can we change the selfishness which we display in the world outside? We can change the way we look at the world. We look at whatever is outside of us, as outside, even if that thing comes in our life or does not come in our life. End of the day, it’s only about a certain set of experience, regarding that object, regarding that person or in association with that person or situation.

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Summing up, our life is a bundle of experiences of various levels, various times, various situations. Experiences are the essence of our existence. When we realize or when our awareness grows beyond the selfish feelings of ownership, we understand that end of the day it’s only experience. Like for example, you’ve got to have a place to stay, you need a place to stay, whether it’s a rented house, or it’s your own house. It really doesn’t make a difference as long as you are comfortable, you’re okay. A good place to stay is good enough. But the mind will definitely tell, “No, no, no, but you don’t own it, so you should own it. What if somebody asks you to leave.” Okay, those kinds of things, yes. But finally, when it all boils down, it’s your experience of being in one place or having the shelter. So, this is the way we can look at everything in life. You’re hungry; you have food. What food comes is not important. Did you like the food? If the experience is good, you should accept it.

Like that, if you look at life, narrow it down to the necessity level in terms of experience, then you should be okay. That takes you off the selfish attitude, “I must have it all. I should have better than other people.” Then the competition, the comparison, all those things will not happen; provided you’re happy, you’re contented. That doesn’t mean that you are lethargic. That’s not the point here. It’s not lethargy, it’s not that you don’t do anything at all and think that everything will fall on your lap, it won’t happen that way. But we need to work hard with full awareness, keeping the awareness intact. We should be fully aware, that we are only experiencing life here. We are not owning anything, we can’t own anything permanently. Awareness is the best antidote to tackle selfishness. And compulsive acts of selflessness totally takes it away, eradicates it.

Thank you for listening to this podcast. Contemplate on it. Do discuss with your friends. And let me know what you feel. If you have further questions do send them to me. Thank you.

This is Mohanji for you.

Mohanji Tilak

Transcribed by Ulla Bernholdt

Proofread by Rekha Murali

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