Have you ever wondered why being ‘altruistic’ is seen as ‘good’? Where did the idea come from that self-sacrifice is the highest moral duty and virtue?
Could it be an unconscious pattern from our Christian culture, where Jesus sacrificed himself to save us from our sins (apparently)?
“Altruism declares that any action taken for the benefit of others is good, and any action taken for one’s own benefit is evil. Thus the beneficiary of an action is the only criterion of moral value, and so long as that beneficiary is anybody other than oneself, anything goes.” – Ayn Rand.
If you have been following my work, you’ll know that I believe the masses have a disdain for psycho-spiritual work – they actively repel anything that brings discomfort to their psyche. It is the ego’s defence mechanism – trying to save itself from evolving.
Without doing the necessary inner work, most people project out to the world in an attempt to become ‘whole’. Altruism is a form of this outer expression. They may see this as a virtuous act when, in reality, it is escapism masquerading as virtue.
In this sense, it is a lack of individuality and selfhood that causes excessive Altruism – Altruism being a consequence of a poorly developed ego.
Are you doing being altruistic from empathy, or because it’ll make you feel better in the moment? In which case, that is a selfish act, not selfless.
What is Self?
The question that I think we need to ask is what we consider self to be. It is common to look at self (notice lower ‘s’) as the ego. This can be developed and matured to become wholesome Human Beings. It is also common within the spiritual and Eastern philosophies to consider Self (big ‘s’) to be God/Consciousness itself.
The latter is where I believe the Truth resides. How does this impact altruism and selfishness?
Do we need to transcend self for Self? If so, then that would be a self-sacrificial act and may completely flip this article on its head. But I don’t think it does. I think the realisation of Self as Reality creates a life dedicated to Selfishness (not selfishness) and excessive Altruism will halt this process.