Sorry, Joey, but Phoebe can do selfless acts and still feel good about it as long as she’s in Connection and not addiction.
Selfish or selfless—which is which?
Whatever the cause, the ability to perpetrate suffering and harm on another being comes from being Disconnected. When I am Connected and aware of my Connection to all life, I am unable to cause harm because I feel the pain I am causing. There is no altruism, no lack of selfishness in doing good instead of harm. It is, in fact, selfish to help others and want to bring pleasure to others. Think about it—when you give a gift, when you make someone smile, or when you say something kind, don’t you feel good? Don’t you smile? When you help someone in trouble, when you donate to a cause, when you answer a call from a friend in the middle of the night, maybe you are put out or aggravated, but don’t you do it because not to do it would cause you pain and discomfort? Maybe you do uncomfortable acts of goodness because you enjoy the rewards of praise and commendation from others. Maybe you do it because you feel empathy for the other person. There are degrees of Connection.
This brings to mind the parent who disciplines the child and says, “This hurts me more than it hurts you!” The parent is feeling the child’s suffering not just from the punishment imposed, but from the child’s resentment at being punished and/or the shame that he let his parents down and the Disconnect the child is feeling from the parent. The parent is attempting to say “We are still Connected, I am feeling this with you, and it is a measure of the importance of teaching you a lesson that I have to cause us both this pain, but I am with you in it.” It is seldom, of course, that the child gets this until he has become a parent himself.
I don’t mean to take away any of the goodness of the acts of kindness and generosity performed by anyone. I am emphasizing that these can be acts committed out of Connection and that we cannot so easily separate the self from others. Furthermore, contrary to popular belief in America, there is nothing wrong with being selfish! The harm comes from placing oneself above others to their detriment. Causing pain without feeling that pain is about Disconnection. Profit at others’ expense is about Disconnection. Putting another down in order to feel good about oneself is about Disconnection. Doing acts of kindness to control others’ perception of us is about Disconnection. Disconnection is about separation of self from life and is the cause of all evil, all unhappiness, and all destruction.
So, selfless or selfish, which is which? When I am in Connection, I may behave selflessly but I am also being selfish, since I reap the rewards as much or more so than the receiver. When I am in disconnection, I may behave selflessly, but my intention is not to Connect, but to receive the external validation of myself as a giving person. That is addiction.