To Give or Not To Give? Part Two: How Altruism Can Be Used for our Personal Growth

The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. Mahatma Gandh

Altruism – the giving to others without seeking anything in return – is definitely a means of finding ourselves and an opportunity to move beyond our egocentric actions and reactions. Many spiritual traditions echo this philosophy. In fact, having a generous nature is woven into the very core of our DNA. It is a natural thing for us to do. It brings many rewards and yet, should be done from a giving heart rather than the desire purely to receive those rewards.

Our hunter gatherer ancestors knew that altruism within the tribe promoted the passing on of genes. It also supported their reputation amongst other tribe members as it was important to be seen to be sharing the spoils of one’s labours and giving back what they themselves had received: if you give me some special roots to eat today, I must be seen to give you some special roots to eat tomorrow so I appear benevolent in the eyes of others. Since those early days, our willingness to help others has evolved considerably and we are now willing to help those far outside our tribe and who we do not even know. Read More

To Give or Not To Give? Part One

We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give. Winston Churchill

Two afternoons a week I volunteer at a local dog rescue centre. There is one dog at the centre I especially like: a young German Shepherd Dog called Isla who came from a couple who felt they could no longer cope with her. In truth, they had made little effort to train Isla and, with her very intelligent mind, it had not taken her long to become a very badly-behaved dog.

I felt so sorry for Isla, an active, highly sensitive dog living 24/7 in a small kennelled area, that I aimed to give her an enjoyable time twice a week. I used to give her a long walk and then come back and play ball with her which is her favourite pass time. She was difficult to walk: lunging out at passing cars, joggers, cyclists and, viciously, towards other dogs. It took all my strength to hold her.

On one walk, I was pondering how I could use a principle that I believe in to overcome the difficulties with Isla’s behaviour: when we focus on the challenges, faults and foibles of people’s personalities, all we perceive are those personality deficiencies. When we train our ‘seeing’ to look beyond their flaws and instead see the innate goodness and lovliness of their True nature, we quite naturally come into better interpersonal relationships with them. Read More

BACK
/* ]]> */