Of course, freedom is crucial for a human to have. It’s become a subject of discussion because most people have no clue of what it really means. All beings are created free. Our world when humanity started didn’t have religions, politics, ethics, and societies with rules. People lived in nature or simple sheds to shelter themselves. Humans were part of nature with survival instincts and heightened senses.
Today, we have degenerated in these qualities. Modern man has technology which helps her but the human in itself has degraded a lot. I know some will say that we live longer and so on but this has nothing to do with the DNA. That’s all technology and science.
We are born with creativity and intelligence. How can one use them, if you are free to express them? If you put the tiger or the lion in a cage they eventually give up. Their life spirit just gives in. Well, humans are no different, but humans sometimes are stronger and more resistant. But, those who advocated freedom are often mocked, threatened or killed. Look at Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and the Students in Beijing who stood up. There are many examples throughout our history.
If you believe that we have freedom on this planet, then think again and start to investigate this subject. First, freedom starts from within YOU. With freedom come responsibilities like respect for others, compassion, peaceful living (except for defense and only if you’re attacked), open mind and open heart. So freedom starts within YOU first.
There’s never been a need to establish borders on a small planet in an infinite universe. This planet was never created with borders and control. It’s just a place to live and experience. Well, most people just dream about what they want to do but they live like slaves under those who rule. Money and fear being major tools.
So, why should someone really rule? It belongs to the people to establish a system that functions for all of us. We are all responsible for this system to work. All that is now, has been created because of selfish desire and greed. Intelligence used to enslave others for their own purpose. We’re taught that we are worthless and that we are sinners. Nothing could be farther from the truth. EVERYONE IS FREE and EQUAL. You may judge, I don’t because in the end I only judge myself. Let people be like birds, who fly free every day. They will also encounter experiences and dangers but they go and they do what they want.
WE CREATE OUR OWN REALITY FROM WITHIN AND WE RECEIVE WHAT WE CREATE, NO EXCEPTIONS.
You are your own master and you stand responsible for your choices whether you like it or not.
As the old saying goes, freedom is a curse and a blessing at the same time. Jean Paul Sartre, the French philosopher coined a very provocative and truthful phrase: “We are condemned to freedom because once thrown in the world we are responsible for everything we do.” So freedom is not only essential but it is the very existence of all living beings. That is the only thing that we do have and control: freedom to think, to feel, to act and to choose and no matter what choices we make we are fully responsible for them and the consequences thereafter.
You can be affected by a number of combinations over which you have no control—country of birth, parents, economic situation, race, etc.—but it is your freedom that enables you to deal with those issues and many others (emotional problems, career, friends, relationships, critical or trifling things) . Whatever you decide to do, it is your responsibility and therefore your freedom of choice.
At the risk of being redundant, I quote Jean Paul Sartre again: “Freedom is existence and in it existence precedes essence”
It’s of greatest importance to have respect for everything around you. We shall go about this from step to step to clarify the importance. First, everything you see out there including yourself come from the same Source or stardust. It’s all interconnected although it has taken form in various expressions. We as humans know very little about this although we think we know a lot. That’s not the case, I can assure you. Our world is extremely limited in perception. We have our 5 sense and that helps for this world but there is an infinite universe out there that we speculate about and observe with our 5 sense through telescopes and some other methods. Most of our understanding is from believing things. Science is trying to be more objective rather than believing but it is still very limited because the ground rules are all based from the human understanding and standpoint. Some few individuals have formed these views and the world accepts it because of their titles and education. There may well be humans out there that understand a lot more but they are unknown for the general public. The Universe has always fascinated me, so I did a lot of thinking for a while. Incidentally, I met with a Russian physicist one evening in a hotel in Belgium. We started a discussion about the Universe. My ideas were like his but he of course could put it down to math and I spoke more in layman terms. That was incredible.
So, in our world, like in the universe there are a great deal of thinking, creativity and ideas. Our universe as we observe it through our senses is constantly expanding and changing. Nothing is ever the same. Our world follows the same pattern at this time. There’s a lot changing right now. Nothing is static. So, the human intelligence combined can offer a lot if it was to become synchronized. For that to be we need to open our minds, get rid of our biases, open the hearts and start evaluating ideas. All humans should take a part of this. A world forum discussion would be lengthy as well as “hot” in discussions, all because of mentality. What could save it and really make it fruitful would be the common goal of finding the best solution. This means that all ideas must be looked upon seriously and not just be discarded. This requires RESPECT from us as a human collective. Everyone has the same value. This is true in all parts that we experience and live in.
Real respect starts from within you. When you have self-respect and understand your value, then you’re ready to respect others. Without this inside of you, you’ll continue on your own ego path. This is a very hard part to go through on our planet since most people are selfish in thinking.
You’ll see plenty of examples everyday of people fighting for their own ideas and solutions, completely ignorant for other ideas. This upcoming presidential election is just one of many. The same goes for the COVID problem, where there are many ideas both with information and disinformation.
We don’t respect our bodies, nature and animals either. Greed and money seems more important than life. Selfish and ignorant interests, again. Respect for one another will also help this planet to become more peaceful. People don’t have to fight when they can learn to work together. Think of all the money that could go for research to have a healthy planet, healthy people and a good living. No, instead we build weapons and worse WMD. So much money goes for this while billions suffer in their lives. Our morals say that we should value life and guard it. Well, I think we see more of the opposite now.
So, I hope this gives you some more insight why respect is so essential for ALL of us to have because without it, we can self-destruct as a civilization.
For the future, with love
Respect begets respect. How you act has a great bearing on how others act toward you. I can respect an opponent and not like one thing about them. I don’t like most people in Congress, but I respect their ability to con their constituents into believing their BS so they could get elected, and to continue to be reelected even though they have delivered nothing they promised. You can respect someone and still feel free to politely explain your opinion of them. Honesty and respect – a hard pair to come by.
If you respect those you dislike, they’re more likely to respect you back, in that they won’t go out of their way to make life harder on you.
Since ancient times, man has already learned how to utilized certain animals to help them in their everyday undertakings – transport, hauling goods, plowing the field and mountains, source of milk, security, and even kill them for food.
There is only a limit where we can use animals for our needs but not to kill them for food or exploit them for entertainment. Even helping with our chores should have a limit, we need to provide them enough food, shelter, security, medicine, etc. We should treat them as they are – spirit souls like us in animal bodies.
Here is an essay related to your question:
Are we just animals?
Materialist scientists says we are animals. Our Biology books stated that we belong to the kingdom Animalia. Charles Darwin speculated that we ascended from a common ancestor that evolved from single bacteria several millions of years ago. He also said, Chimpanzees are our closest genetic relative because we share 96% of their genes. But, in several studies, scientists also found out that we also share similar genes (90%) with cats, mice (85%), cattle (80%), and even bananas (64%). So, bananas are our distant relatives, too (?).
This simply means that all living organisms are made of any combination of the same genetic information, same atomic particles, same molecules, DNA, etc., but in different ways, purposes and designs. For example: metal, stainless steel, engine, electricity, paints, screws, gears, petrol are used in different varieties of vehicles by different manufacturers – all varieties of cars like sedans, SUVs, trucks, buses, racing cars etc.; speedboats, ships, submarine, warships, airplanes, fighter jets, etc. Variations of the same design and materials are being used in different ways and forms because of availability, practicality and efficiency.
Biologically speaking, we are no different than animals. In fact, many of us think and act like one. In a little comparison: Chimpanzees are quadropedal (uses four limbs to walk/run) compared to man which is a bipedal (upright, walking on two legs). Our hands are shorter and optimized to handle complex tasks and manipulate even tiny and delicate objects, harness fire that paves for modern inventions and energy generation.
Chimps use their strong arms to grab, swing on branches and walk on their bare knuckles. Human and Chimp brains may be the same in size and volume, but man’s brain is much superior to Chimps. Our larynx can vocalize complex sounds when talking, manipulate words and languages; Chimps have a very limited larynx movement. Does Chimpanzees sing? Scientists have established that great apes and chimpanzees are indifferent to music at all. For them, they are just a bunch of meaningless sounds that doesn’t affect them, negative or positive.
Many say we are much superior and a special kind of animal because we have dominion over them; we are more intelligent, we can express the entire spectrum of feeling and emotions compared to other animals. We have great degrees of self-reflection, work and solve complex concepts and intellectual problems, multi-task at profound levels, and high level of memory retention. We are even capable of “seeing” or imagining/watching ourselves in a third person perspective, outside of us.
Materialist scientists and philosophers posits that we are no different than a stone, a potato and a lizard. We are nothing special. Like all animals, we take birth, live for a while and die. Regardless of our activities and what we can achieve, we are still going to die. And that’s it, a bitter dead end, or a sweet relief to some like the nihilists. We will just end up a rotting, stinking corpses like all animals will become, sooner or later. Noting special, so they believed.
Animals are only concerned of four activities, mainly: eating, sleeping, mating and defending. They don’t go to school to learn arithmetic, to read and write, study science, business, economics, law, medicine, politics, art, etc. Their mode of communication and commerce are instinctive and limited compared to humans.
Their lives revolve around those four main activities. Of course, they also play, seek pleasures; take care of their offspring, build simple shelters, socialize, but, you won’t see them go to masses and congregate in churches to pray, discuss and argue about religion, philosophy, politics and fashion. They may have a sense of superiority and obedience toward others, but they have no idea about God and religion.
Humans are also greatly concerned about these four activities. We eat, sleep, have sex and fight to defend ourselves, our loved ones, others and country. But, we are more sophisticated than animals. We cook our food elaborately and ceremoniously, use fine utensils, and prepare them artfully and sumptuously, not only for nourishment but for gratifying our tongue and stomach. In fact, the varieties of food and preparations are as diverse as there are cultures.
Great men in the past navigated the world through the now famous Spice Routes in the Middle East for spices, trade and commerce. Our discriminating taste buds took us to faraway lands and helped shape the ancient civilizations greatly. On the other hand, animals of the same species anywhere in the world eat the same raw food without much ado using just bare hands, tongue or mouth.
Many of us sleep in expensive, comfortable beds in our air-conditioned or heated homes sheltered from natural elements. We have water beds, air beds, soft cotton beds, floating beds, hammocks, etc. We have sex not only to procreate but for sensual gratification. We have a whole industry in this area that rakes in exorbitant revenues, many from underground dealings. We have porn sex industry, bath houses and sex clubs, brothels, sex toys and sex dolls of all sorts, sex-enhancing drugs and all kinds of paraphernalia and activities associated with it.
We defend and fight like animals but with sophisticated weapons. Animals may use fighting implements, too, but crude and simplistic compared to what we created. We have all kinds of blunt, flexible, projectiles and bladed weapons, automatic assault rifles, missiles with nuclear warheads, biological and chemical weapons, sea, land, underwater and space weapons, etc. A sizable Hydrogen or atomic bomb can obliterate a small country, capable of wiping its entire population in an instant. That’s how efficient we have become in terms of our defending and fighting propensity.
The same four main activities; the sophistication and the mentality are worlds apart.
Is this the reason what makes humans “special” than animals? Not really. There is one big difference that sets up far apart from them, and that is, Inquisitiveness – the ability to ask higher and intelligent questions, like: Who am I?” “Why am I here?”” Why am I suffering?” “What is the meaning and purpose of life?” “How can I solve these problems?” It is a precious gem, a property exclusive only to human beings. Animals can’t ask these questions. They don’t have the ability. Their intelligence is lesser than humans and limited only to their four main activities and survival. Their instinctive sense of morality is lesser compared to humans. They are not even concern about nakedness and indecency.
In order to fully comprehend these things, we need to understand that we are not our physical body. We are eternal, undying spirit souls temporarily embodied in it. We are a distinct entity, invisible, immeasurable and primeval. Our body is like a vehicle that we drive around. Animals are also animated because of spirit souls embodied inside them. The spirit souls are the “drivers” inside their pig body, dog body, bird body, fish body and so on. Animals think and act as animals, like humans think as humans, but some humans think and act like animals, too.
According to the Vedas (book of knowledge written 5000 years ago), the human body is the only material form among the 8,400,000 species of living organisms in the planet that is capable of knowing the Absolute Truth or God. Spirit souls in animal and plant bodies don’t have that capability. This is what makes the human form “special.” The properties of a human form is what helps the spirit soul realize his real identity, the purpose and meaning of life and intrinsic connection and relationship with God, provided one is able to discover its uses and importance. But sadly, many of us, consciously or unconsciously, opted to live like sophisticated animals.
Human life is intended to know God and go back to Him. What if we misuse our responsibility as what human life is intended to? Nature takes care of that through the law of karma and reincarnation. Human life is like a drama in a stage play. We were given a role as the main actor, others assume supporting roles, and so on. We are expected to act our role accordingly. But, if we don’t act very well according to our character, we will not get the same role anymore in the next stage play.
In real life, we will be stripped of our human form and get a body of a particular animal suitable to our desires, attachments, past actions, and consciousness in our next lifetime. We will be prepared and conditioned for our next role as an animal. We can see that animals are at ease, comfortable being themselves, wallowing in the filthy mud, have sex openly with anyone without shame, swim and live underwater, etc. It’s because of previous conditioning and the greatly diminished consciousness, feelings and emotions. Unlike humans, animals are free from creating karma.
It is not accidental that we are born in human bodies. It is not the first time, either. If we live like a cat in this lifetime, we will get the body of a cat; the same if we live like a dog, fish, bird, monkey, and so on. We will be conditioned to live like animals and forfeit that precious ability to ask higher question about God until we are born and elevated in human form again. Our precious chance to liberate ourselves from the cycle of material existence is offered to us again.
But, if we misuse our human form, we will be thrown back again to animal or plant form, and the cycle continues. Who knows how many hundreds and millions of lifetimes we have been roaming the universes, passing though different species, born as a man, a woman, cat, giraffe, cockroach, snake, lizard, butterfly, crab, crocodile, shark, maggot in rotten dead bodies, worm in a stool, fungus, oak tree, potato, banyan tree living for thousands of years, carrot, daffodil, dog, tick in a dog, seaweed, etc.?
“As the embodied soul continually passes, in this body, from boyhood to youth to old age, the soul similarly passes into another body at death. The self-realized soul is not bewildered by such a change.” – Bhagavad Gita – 2:13
Well, you’ve received a lot of answers and opinions. But let’s get some facts in here. The first fact is that people have different values regarding animals. Let’s take dogs as an example: Many people love dogs and make them part of the family. Some people just have them to cuddle with, other people train their dogs to do things. Some are crueler and just chain the dog to a post or lock them up somewhere. They are just there to scare if someone enters the house. In some countries people eat dogs and it’s considered good food. So already now you can see how different the views are depending the person but also the cultural, religious and geographical locations. In some religions dogs are considered dirty.
In the Mid Evil times dogs were used for many different things by humans. Therefore we carry expressions like: “I’m tired like a dog” or “I’m hungry as a dog”. So people seem to forget how animals have helped people throughout time in many, many ways. Dogs (and other animals) have saved human lives many times and they still do. Look at the service cows and horses have done for humans but how many people think about that!
Most humans take animals for granted in many ways. Either for food, for their personal pleasure, for social status etc. It’s just accepted that the dog (or other animals) must follow the will of humans. The world is changing in this view for some respects. More and more humans are changing into vegetarian food. Some do this for the animals, others for health reasons but the purpose of not killing animals is still being fulfilled.
Animals are intelligent and sentient beings (regardless of what people say, who disagree with me). They have their own evolution and their own qualities. They give unconditional love to humans but at the same time they will reflect what YOU feel towards them. They come to you when they want to and I would never dream of forcing an animal to come unless it wants to. There are many beautiful stories about human and wild animal connections. People who have become family with wolves, gorillas, orangutans and other animals. We as humans must learn to respect animals for who they are. When an animal loves you it will be for life unless you mistreat it. If it leaves you, it will be for life.
When we are calm around animals and respect them they will never harm a human unless for example they are hungry predators. Some other ones, like attack dogs will cause harm or death because they were trained by HUMANS to do this. I have had some wonderful encounters in wildlife even with some dangerous animals but I don’t feel scared and I respect the animals just as much as I respect humans. They are living beings and they express themselves the way they can. Shouldn’t we give our love to these beings?
Consider human mentality. Some religions teach that if you’re not born within the blood line then you are an animal and you can be treated as such. So, depending on your own personal understanding and insight of life, you are going to express this to the world around you. Nature will reflect to you who you are. I think that the movie “Solaris” shows how our planet tries to work. I think it’s high time that humans start to work with Nature rather than to fight and destroy it. If we don’t, there will be no winners, that’s for sure. Nature will always survive.
Geographical locations also have had a great impact on the moral evolution of humans. Some parts of our planet is harsh nature with mountains and sand. It’s very difficult to cultivate vegetables or fruit. In other parts this is very easy. The Indians of America (all parts) never killed animals in excess. They always blessed the ones they killed and thanked it for its service. Then came the white man, blood thirsty to hang trophies on the wall or like with the buffalo, thousands killed just for pleasure and money. This goes on even today.
So, my opinion is that we should accept our little brothers and sisters and live in peace with them. Just like you have your life, they should have their life. A life in freedom and it can be with humans but all in respect. Animals have qualities which the modern human has forgotten. They see more, smell more and sense far more than most humans do. They warn us many times but humans are blind to this. Equally there are extremely intelligent animals on our planet like dolphins but they are used for entertainment or military purpose. They try often to show us the way but we are so blind to this most of the time.
Blessed are you who truly love our nature and wildlife and who stands up for their rights.
Rather than baldly state my opinion on this quote, I will analyze it a bit and let you infer my opinion from tone. Anyway, I’d hardly have any real definite opinion, pre-analysis.
Okay. Reading it.
First, may I observe the quoted speaker must be gigantically unobservant, and/or never have left the house? I will pretend now to speak directly to the quoted speaker:
DUDE. YOU HAVE TRULY MISSED THE BOAT. WHAT YOU SUGGEST WE MIGHT DO HAS BEEN DONE FOR THOUSANDS OF YEARS. IF AS YOUR BIG FOLLOWUP YOU WERE PLANNING TO SUGGEST FIRE, OR THE WHEEL, SAVE YOUR DIAGRAMS. DONE & DONE.
Secondly: “animals are not as important as humans” is as daffy as a pepperoni piano. Humans are animals. We’re not vegetables. We’re not minerals. We’re not fungi or protists. In fact if you look into it, we are warm-blooded, give birth to live young and suckle from teats, making us mammals, even.
Mammals are animals. All of us. Not a single exception.
Thirdly: “not as important as humans” – whose assessment was this? A great white sharks? I wouldn’t bet on it! Not if you dive in to discuss it with a few, and they’re hungry. They may find you important to eat, and themselves more important to live. If as I rather suspect, it was humans doing the importance ranking here, that’s kind of biased isn’t it? “Humans are more important to humans.” No duh they are! And cheetahs are more important to cheetahs, and bears are more important to bears, and birds of a feather are more important to birds of the same feather…especially for mating purposes, which, pretty important.
Anyhow, those three things are the main things that jump out at me re: this quote. I have no particular opinion on the quote itself, beyond those points. The quote doesn’t strike me as important enough to warrant much of an opinion. Or any.
False. For if I stand there smiling, shaking my head, saying nothing at all instead of a lie – where is their right to truth? What have I stolen?
Nowhere. Nothing. And they never had a right to truth. A right is a natural power we have, which no one can rightly take from us. We have a right to the truth we ourselves can discern from reality, and discern from comparison of claims to reality.
However, still pretty false and sh!tty giving, if lying is how we give ourselves. That’s wrong enough, please. When the other’s idea of us is formed entirely by what we give? When we give ourselves false, they find that out about us eventually. Word gets around. Over their protestations of goodwill and devil’s advocacy on our behalf, once their faith in our sincerity or honesty breaks, once they give in and see and know that we, we ourselves are false, that crack will not seal itself. Possibly ever. They will be quite right to judge our gift of self-defective, and possibly worthless. They will be right – in self-preservation, or just in terms of personal preference – to dismiss us as unworthy of their attention, their regard, and their company. All of which is entirely theirs. All of which they are as free to give as to keep.
It probably depends on how deep the lie goes, or how big the lie is in effect. But you never know, some people are pretty sensitive about liars.
If you care enough about people to go making up pretend nonsense rights for them to enjoy, the above truth is enough reason to discard the nonsense. The truth is reason enough. Karma. Not the witty-woo cosmic balancing force. Karma: the world you create for yourself of people who know how you really are by what you give. Real karma. Imagine a world where you never really gave yourself? That’s a world where no one knows you. Desolate place. Or imagine a world where everyone knows you by how you give yourself false?
That’s enough reason, if you want reasons. There is no necessity of making up nonsense rights and fantasy thefts to goose people with abstract guilt, “Oh my goodness! I never thought about that! I’m not just making myself a lying scumbag in peoples’ eyes – I’m violating rights someone just made-up! It’s like stealing truth from a baby!” Whose credulity is this going to convince? Only someone so naïve and sincere already, they frankly don’t need it.
Whoever asks you the truth is asking. They ask a favor. They ask for something that is yours, which you have, and may give. Either we can decline and give nothing, or else they were not asking: they were demanding.
Whatever reason there might be to grant a favor can never be a reason to accede to a demand. Whoever asks us or whoever may hear what we volunteer – that one had no right to anything in you. Anything of yours. Until you offered it. Until you gave. Your gift establishes their right to such gift. No prior right exists to what we give.
They are not owed you. They are not owed your truth. Your truth is yours to offer, share, and give. Your truth is yours to keep. To hold onto. “I will keep my own counsel” – “WHAT? COUNSEL-THIEF! You steal from me my right to counsel!”
Yeah, call a lawyer. Call Legal Aid. Your right to counsel (if you have such right) does not force me to serve you in this capacity, tyrant. Your “right to truth” is like your right to pursuit of happiness. You have the right to find what you can find, no more.You have no “right to truth” that enslaves me as your compulsory truth-provider. Grow up.
No one has a right to anything you must give them. Demand =decline. We are free equal beings and not above each other; you want something of one of us, you must request. Which means the other is free to decline. No one has any claim upon you for anything you could give except the claim you freely give them, or other claim you recognize. Absent some claim upon you whose validity you recognize (and you’re free to!), whatever it is you may give, that is something you are equally free to keep.
Why tell the truth at all, then? If to not do so would not be theft and violation of a made-up right someone just made up?
Well, let’s think about that a bit.
It’s for you give true. Not because another has status over you to command your give. For you. For your own selfsame sake: because how you give yourself is something you do to yourself, and something you make of yourself. So it is for yourself you give true. It is only by giving you true – no less than you mean, no other than you know – that anyone ever knows you.
They will know you by what you give. The better you give, the better they know. Supposing you make a parallel effort in aimed intent from self to better and best self as you go, you will find the better you give, the better you are, the better you can be.
Giving yourself true eases and brightens the consequence of your being. Every step in such direction makes every next step and all steps thereafter easier. It starts as practice, falls to habit, rises to discipline and ascends towards mastery.
Don’t worry. It’ll probably never get there. Not all the way there! Perfect’s not an adjective for a human being. For a human being, “perfect” is a verb.
You nailed it in one. Your second question: no, it shouldn’t matter. One, because others’ motives are unknowable, two because others’ motives are almost always mixed. More than one drive, more than one argument, more than one reason rises in us when we determine what we’ll do. We’re there in the moment feeling all these reasons to do and all the reasons not to, and we add our judgment as the tiebreaker. Sometimes there are three big reasons to do something and one little reason not to, but we go case by case. In this moment we may add weight to the little reason and refrain. Or we may add weight to one of the big reasons and it’s a landslide victory for DO IT.
But all the motives were in there. All of them were working. The fact one particular motive you don’t like was in there too is no reason to assume that it was the main driver – or that other reasons you like better weren’t also in there strong. Check it out, in your scenario: even a person who hopes for moral reward, or social reward (in how you’ll see them and be disposed to them) is almost always also doing it for the pure good feeling they get from being good and doing good. From acting with their desires to be a good thing in the world. That’s pleasurable, man! It feels good to be good.
So if you want, you could call it selfish. Any reward of pleasure and enjoyment is a reward for the self. But what does it get you to cut all things down to cynicism? If it feels good to do well, to be good, then what that really tells us is this person is a good being. Something in their essential nature or personal inclination cries out for the satisfaction or fulfillment of good being. Good doing. Should it not feel good?
Good feels good to be. To do. Selfish. But if you care about other people, then the amazing flip that happens is: you begin to find the greatest part of your “own good” in their own good. This isn’t anybody’s idea of “selfish” – yet still they will get that selfish reward of pleasure, in knowing they could be good to you, good for you, and did. Good for them!
Good for you is good for them.
What’s it matter if mixed up in all that, they think that being good to you also adds to the tally in their moral deserts column? So they believe in karma, or heaven, or whatever other mechanism. These kinds of beliefs just amount to a belief that good is good and should be rewarded. This is a belief about life and the world, about justice, about good itself – about how people should be to each other – far more than it’s selfish. It is no more selfish than social reward – wanting you to like them. Well of course they’d want you to like them if they think you’re cool, good, nice or interesting! It’s no more selfish than the good feeling of pleasure in fulfillment and satisfaction of some inner need or desire to be good.
Here’s the only time a selfish motive could be a concern: when the person is seeking their own good at your cost or loss. To your detriment. Cruel or callous selfishness. But that’s not what you’re talking about here. Their own idea of moral deserts is no skin off your back. Nor is any hoped-for social benefit (which really, they believe is or would be your benefit too, in them). Nor is their pleasure in being or doing well.
You don’t know what their motives are anyway. Me? I assume the best/most harmless motive for another’s statement or act. It’s not a moral thing. I just find it helps me react better, stronger and clearer from what they’ve actually given me, without getting lost in a forest of motives and other unknowns. It gives me my best strongest response, and proceeding that way we always find out between us what we’re about – and what we’re really after.
The only thing you can do is to wait and observe and not commit to anything with them. Over a period of time, it will become clearer what that person’s motives are.
The good you are speaking of is really “transcendent love” versus the more expected quid pro quo (“give to get” which is a strategic way to get something).
In today’s culture, the false kindness used to get something is so common, that many young people never even learn about (much less practice) a transcendent love type of goodness*.
So don’t be shocked if quid pro quo is by far the majority of interactions. Even wanting to be accepted is an expectation and is not a transcendent form of “good”.
So “wait and observe” to see what takes place after the initial or 2nd interaction and almost for sure, the person will display something of their expectation (often a judgment that they expect us to respond in some way they we haven’t).
I hope this helps….
*: these three together form my definition of goodness (based on monotheism)…
Transcendent love: a free gift of hoping for the virtuous betterment of ourselves and others. It is unconditional with no expectations in return and frees us and others of our fears so we can gain confidence, understanding and skill without being angry or defensive.
Do you think respect is owed? To you, for instance?
No. No one is owed you. Nothing that is another’s to give is owed you. Not their regard, not their respect, not even their attention. Certainly not their company.
This is all theirs, and it is all free. Free to give, free to keep. So if someone says their respect is earned, then their respect is earned and that’s all there is to it.
That’s why people still think respect is earned. Because their respect, which is theirs to give or keep as they wish, is earned.
Having said that, I respect people by default. I respect their autonomy, you know. They don’t have to act how I like. They don’t have to be how I like, they don’t have to agree with me. If someone has no respect or low respect, I’ll still treat them with respect. Why? Why would I treat someone with respect who has low-to-no respect?
Well, because I have self-respect.
Their respect level just tells me what their respect is worth. Tells me their respect isn’t worth wanting. That’s cool. It’s no reason to lower my own respect level. Why should I give any less than my strongest best just because somebody else chooses to go low, weak, nasty or mean? Bad as they want to be?
How it is my problem they make themselves look bad?
That’s cool. They can make themselves look bad. But that’s their style, not mine.
In practice, because of my preferred mode of giving me, nobody needs to “earn” my respect. Because I have self-respect, and for my self-respect giving me shit doesn’t cut it. There’s no need! There’s no advantage. Really, people acting that way is weak sauce. I’m much happier bringing my A-game.
However the respect I give people – even indiscriminately – is still entirely my choice. My preference.
They may earn it. Many people have earned my respect. But purely on my own option, I was treating them with respect anyway. The ones who haven’t earned my respect, even the ones who never will, I prefer to treat with respect. Besides, people have all kinds of weird ways to act. Sometimes it takes time before people make sense to each other. I don’t know that any given person never will earn my respect, but it stands to reason some won’t.
Well, they don’t have to.
But that’s me. With some other people out there, they will have to. If they want that person’s respect, they will have to earn it. Some people’s respect is earned.
Cool enough beans! That’s their call. I respect it. Their respect; theirs to give, theirs to keep – any basis they wish. If you don’t respect that?
Fine. Don’t earn it then! Problem solved. You can start by telling them you don’t respect their call on their own respect, and who they have to give it to. That’s a fast train to an earned no-respect level, I suspect! Thoroughly-earned.
You can’t at one and the same time claim you respect people while also claiming their attitudes, dispositions and gifts are yours to dictate.
I say yes. Why? Because I think it’s true on a basic level, and because admitting this brings it much more clearly into view that selfishness is nothing wrong. We do not find it wrong when people seek their own good, usually. What we find wrong is when people seek their own good in ways that harm or neglect others – and they do not care (callousness), or they actively enjoy being the cause of grief and harm (cruelty).
Apart from callousness, apart from cruelty, what in selfishness is ever wrong?
Put it this way: what makes the greatest part of your own good? If you’re like me, the greatest part of your own good is others’ own good. To feed and further that good richly rewards your own. How do we behave when seeking our own good, in such case?
Not in ways anyone would call selfish. And yet really, they are – for we have found our greatest good in people. Specific people, sometimes just humanity in general, as we encounter them. And being a good thing in chance encounters or long-spun relations is the best good we own, and seek, and grow.
A clever dick in college once disproved altruism for me by saying “Altruism is unselfish giving. Yet every good deed carries a strong component of selfish reward. If it isn’t some hoped-for moral reward like good karma or heaven, it is the social reward of how others see us – a good person. At the very least there is always the selfish reward of the pleasure we take in doing good and being good. This selfish pleasure is the single biggest reason why we do it. Altruism therefore cannot exist, as good is inherently selfish.”
I was like “Fair cop. You do realize you’ve convicted altruism of selfishness at the cost of convicting humanity of essential good nature or personal good inclination? It hardly matters which! There is something in either our nature or in our desire which rewards us with satisfaction, with fulfillment, with good feeling for good being and good doing. Now how would this be if we were not essentially or characteristically good? What is being satisfied? What is being fulfilled?”
If so, does doing something for your child when they ask an inherently selfish deed?
Well, if the thing they ask is good for the child, of course it’s an inherently selfish deed. The child is so large a part of your heart. The child’s good, happiness and flourishing enriches yours like probably nothing else. Talk about bang for the buck – making good for that child or being good to them is its own huge payoff! Or if the child is asking something you know is bad for them, you must stand back and be unselfish. You must deny, wishing you could grant every wish but knowing boundaries are best in the long run.
Which is for the child’s own good, too. So you feel a healthy and utterly selfish glow from making the right decision and being a good parent.
Selfishness is pursuit of own good.
Pursuit of good is good.Pursuit of good is only bad when we risk, harm, diminish or destroy other good in pursuing ours. It is found bad when we pursue our own good – not selfishly! – But callously or cruelly, at the expense of others. And don’t care! Or actively low-level revel in it. Or high-level revel.
When we pursue our own good in aimed intent from self to better and best self – this is essentially selfish, even if we angle our aim at improving the thing we are in this world for others. Even if almost all our efforts are outwardly-focused, seeking the good of the one in front of us, seeking mutual good with all those whose lives we touch, whose lives touch ours, seeking greater good for humanity in general – all this is to seek our own good. The good feeling of good bring and good doing.
To seek our own good in such ways (and especially the good of others) just shows we know best where and how to find it. Yes, it’s selfish – there is a strong component of selfish reward. Ultimately, to feel and know the good of a better self. To find we have bettered ourselves in the rich satisfaction of what comes in aiming well, and better, and best – every chance we get. It’s no grind or toil. It eases and brightens the consequence of our being!
Yet selfishness itself – seeking own good – is good. It is only callous or cruel selfishness that is found bad. And misuse or abuse of selfishness is no argument against selfishness.
No. Is the toe the self? The pinky-toe I mean. Not the big toe – we all know that’s the self. Left foot or right foot big toe, depending.
Look, the mind is an emergent property of the brain. In conscious awareness, building up in roaring incoming sensory stream. Collecting and collated in memory, working up to various conceptual models and responding to the world through and with and in these, in experimentation by hook and crook, in confirmation and falsification, by reach and leap and grasp we come to recognize all parts ours as the self. But no part (not even the mind, not even the brain) is wholly and only the self. The self is the whole schemer.
Yes, I suppose the mind is the self, and so is the pinky toe, but neither is the entire self. The mind is the inkerplex. It’s an often shoddy, sometimes sublime projection and reflection slapped up by the brain: the inker. That which inkles. The self is made up within the inker from an interconnected web and wheelhouse of incoming and uprising inklings – and the mind perceives this, and perceives itself in the process. Perceives the self. But it also perceives the self is the whole schemer. The muscles and tendons, skeleton and nervous tangle. The hair or what’s left of it. Teeth tested again and again repeatable by tongue. Eyes testing skies, looking for cloud-shaped clouds to incorporate in mind. Ears and hearing thrilling to the sounds of all kinds of rock and roll. Skin on skin – and the uncomfortably grainy sensation of someone else taking a Def Leppard song too seriously! Why did you literally pour some sugar on me? Oh, I asked you too? Well, that’s fair.
The mind is a funny little obstacle course, all obstacles and courses house made for its own amusement and edification. We run ourselves through it incessantly in training, discipline, exercise and fun. In one sense, the self is far smaller than the mind. For it is a concept within the mind – and unless you’re a bit odd, it’s probably one of the concepts you think the littlest about. Because you are it, and constantly engaged in more direct explorations than cogitation. So the self is tiny and conjured! The mind is larger, and contains it. Lightning in a bottle.
Except for the other thing, and here’s the leap of faith. The mind is convinced there is or may be a world outside of the mind. And the body is objectively part of this world (including the brain). So the self (as conceived by and within the mind) is indeed the larger.
It’s nothing to trouble oneself over. There is no conflict. It makes perfect sense: of course all one’s concepts are smaller than the mind. The mind is what birthed and raised and shaped them, refining and honing their development with juicy blasts of icy-cold reality check from the sensory stream! Yet most of these concepts refer to things far larger than the three pounds or so of think noodle endlessly flavoring up, simmering in its own electro biochemical fizz broth. The very thing that took them all in and thought them all up, as concepts. Whilst retaining all through a visceral sense and emotional notion of their real, external existence.
So the concept of the self is smaller than the mind, and within the mind.
The self qua self is larger. And the mind is the self in the sense that it is part of the self. Just like the pinky toe is the self. But both one is the self-entire – and really, that’s not a hard concept to get.
For one thing, you probably have eight or nine other toes. For another – the appendix! Do you even have one still? If so, that’s the self! Not entirely. If not – well, that was the self. But I wouldn’t worry about its loss. Not at the rate you’re shedding skin cells. You’re leaving past self all over the place.
Let it go. Such attachments can only lead to suffering.
Many people refer to the ego-mind as self because that is what most people self-identify with. And for all practical purposes, if that is your perspective, then your mind is yourself.
However, your mind is not your true self. Why? Because your ego-mind … its emotions, judgments, cravings and attachments … are the cause of your suffering, not the events or aspects of your being it reacts to. As the Buddha said, if it causes you suffering, “it is not your, it is not yours, it is not yourself for your self would not cause you suffering.”
The good news is that your true self is your heart, your Buddha nature/divine essence. When you free yourself from the control of your ego-mind and reconnect instead with your true self, your heart, your will free yourself from suffering and have a much different perspective of yourself.
This is a challenging task requiring discipline and patience, but the path is clear. For help in walking the path, go to my website, selected as one of the top 40 Buddhist blogs on the web. There you will find a video series, “Coming Home,” blog posts, and books to assist you. I also offer a life coaching service based on Buddhist principles. May you experience peace and happiness?
Mind is the Master: The Complete James Allen Treasury
Featuring nineteen beloved works, including As a Man Thinketh, Eight Pillars of Prosperity, The Mastery of Destiny, and From Poverty to Power, here is the first-ever comprehensive and definitive collection of the books of self-help pioneer James Allen