Giving

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Giving

Postby barbarasher » Fri Oct 14, 2005 4:49 pm

This question has been inside me for many years.

You have probably heard of Avraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

As I have gotten my life situation in a very good way and the sun shines more and more, I have/am fulfilling the Self-actualization need that he mentioned, which is: to find self-fulfillment and realize one's potential;

The next need for which I become more available is the next level, which is: Self-transcendence: to connect to something beyond the ego or to help others find self-fulfillment and realize their potential.

I feel compelled, but am not sure it comes from a real desire of mine or from a guilt feeling or another need for me to do/have more (honor/things to keep me running) or from the restlessness where I always have to be doing more and more and am not able to enjoy the now without being on the way somewhere.

I already do help and give quite a bit in many ways. How much is enough?
Which comes first, me, my husband, my kids, my parents, my friends, my employees, strangers (and if so which ones?).

What to give, time or money or both or should I just stop thinking about it altogether?
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Postby Mal2 » Fri Oct 14, 2005 7:43 pm

As one great teacher says "when the left hand does not know what the right is doing" then you have got it right.

I believe this quote points to the state of presence where one is not even aware that "they" are doing good works.

Any goodness that comes from thinking will be karmic anyhow. True goodness flows from the "one" and is at one with all that is. It is a happening rather than a doing.

Again all questions lead back to the same answer. Focus within.
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Postby erict » Fri Oct 14, 2005 8:24 pm

The first thing that comes to mind about giving/altruism is that for most people it isn’t selfless at all! That’s my somewhat radical view on this issue.

Let’s consider a few, more subtle implications of any given “altruistic”, “selfless”, “noble” act of giving, whatever it may be, material or otherwise, to another human being. When the target is a person you love, making him or her happy can be one of the most deeply satisfying experiences. And this very feeling of deep satisfaction is a subtle, but undeniably powerful motivational force. Almost everything we do is ultimately motivated by the desire to feel good, physically, mentally and emotionally. Mostly we try to achieve that through material things, or experiences focused on the self, but sometimes we attempt achieve it through so-called altruistic actions. (And in the end, whatever altruistic action it is, we do it for ourselves, at least as much as for the other person).

So the first thing to consider is how the altruistic actions make you feel. But this isn’t everything. Another very important factor to consider is our wonderful and wonderfully complex self-image, and super-ego (conscience). Very often the super-ego forces the ego into doing things it doesn’t like at all. Having a lot of wealth, or at least considerably more than those who do not even have enough for some basic necessities can trigger the super-ego and cause feelings of guilt. These feelings of guilt produce an inner tension, and since one of the most fundamental motivational forces is simply the desire to feel good, we need to remove that tension. And one way of doing that is by selflessly giving. :) I suppose that most often this happens unconsciously, and the person isn’t even aware of what’s going on, he just feels compelled to give. But here again, the act of altruistic giving can be traced down to our very self-centered desire to feel good.

If your goal is enlightenment, and transcending the ego, then you should examine your motivations very carefully. Giving can be very strongly entangled with your self-image and identity - your ego. Even though on the surface of things it may seem selfless, it can indeed be motivated by the ego and your need for a positive self-image, for a positive identity. And it seems to me, that you experience giving as a need. Maybe that’s not very accurate, but perhaps you feel that your identity (your sense of self) is not quite complete, not quite right, without resolving and finding the place for this important personality aspect of the spiritually mature/evolved human being you strive to be.

My advice is simple: self-awareness. Focus less on the external and more on the internal. Ask yourself a lot of questions. Question everything. Question your thoughts, question your desires and motivations, and I guarantee you'll discover that things are much more complex than they appear to be. You will learn so much about yourself, and so much about the workings of the mind, the ego, pain-body and all that... :) And as you observe how they function within you, you realize that your internal world, just as the external world, is governed by many laws and principles, with many forces involved, affecting the various entities that exist within you. With these realizations comes a certain degree of detachment - a growing space between you and all that's going on within you.
"Be sincere; don't ask questions out of mere interest. Ask dangerous questions—the ones whose answers could change your life."
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Postby heidi » Fri Oct 14, 2005 8:38 pm

Eric - Those are very wise words for such a young guy :)

I have found sometimes that I do an act of service without realising it such as picking up litter and organizing groups to do it. The satisfaction is aesthetic, but then later on I get recognition that was unexpected and it awakens my ego that likes that kind of thing. I notice that many doers of service get caught up in it almost like polititians.
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Postby barbarasher » Sat Oct 15, 2005 8:05 am

So wonderful. Thank you all so much.

perhaps you feel that your identity (your sense of self) is not quite complete, not quite right, without resolving and finding the place for this important personality aspect of the spiritually mature/evolved human being you strive to be.


So is giving just another thing that I seek to do more and more. Another thing that I have to do to arrive to a future that will never come. Another thing that fuels an inability to relax into the now since as ET says. "I can never get there I can only be there".
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