Well, perhaps. I would also suggest that most, if not all, altruism is actually reciprocal altruism -- and thus far less "selfless" than it might appear on its face. Even if the expectation of reciprocity is tiny, long-delayed, etc.
That's sort of the idea expressed in "karma" -- that doing good builds up a back of "good deeds" that will "come back" to you in various ways.
Plenty of us still do "good" for others just because we think it's the "right thing to do." But if we're really honest with ourselves, we do still expect that the more we do good for others, the better chances are that others will do good for us. And there's nothing wrong with that.
But it is true... I am going to run back into the burning building to save my G/F NOT because of any altruism, much less heroism, but because I don't want a life in which she is absent. I'm doing it for ME!
>> But if we're really honest with ourselves, we do still expect that the more we do good for others, the better chances are that others will do good for us. <<
Why does it have to be based on anything superstitious at all? Maybe it can come from a thought that if everyone operated from a place of good will and good intentions, then the world would just be a better place. People would be doing good things for you; you’d be doing good things for them, etc, etc. So you just start doing good to try and begin the protocol.
“Be the change you want to see in the world.”
It doesn’t necessarily boil down to a superstitious belief in magic.
torturednevermo Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > It doesn’t necessarily boil down to a > superstitious belief in magic.
I may be misunderstanding here (and if I am, I apologize)...
...but karma is totally NOT a "superstitious belief in magic."
Instead, the principle of karma posits that the energies of the universe work in fundamental and inherently logical (in a mathematical/scientific sense) ways (even if those ways may be opaque to us at any particular moment in human culture or evolution...and even if the processes of those ways may appear to us to be ILlogical in any particular human circumstance or moment of "experiencing").
By this understanding, there is no fundamental dichotomy between "self" and "non-self," instead: All is One...or: Thou Art That (as it is often expressed in the languages of Hinduism).
By helping ourselves in an enlightened and very wise kind of self-interest, we help not only others, but the "world" itself---LITERALLY making the world a better place.
Not a great analogy, but here is the best I can come up with at this moment:
Push on a tether ball, and it will come back at you. Whack it viciously, and it will likely (if you are not careful) come back and whack you in the face. Whack it with skill and understanding, and it will flawlessly create both the arc and the consequences that you most desire. Life isn't all that neat (and most certainly not in the short term), but long-term (I have discovered) karma works (frequently uncomfortably) well.
Altruism is, almost indivisibly in my understanding, enlightened self-interest first (and maybe, or at least largely, in the sense that the parent is supposed to put on the suddenly-descended oxygen mask FIRST...and only THEN turn their attention to getting oxygen masks on their infants and other children).
Great thoughts, elderolddog!!
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/02/2015 03:19PM by tevai.
ificouldhietokolob Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > tevai Wrote: > -------------------------------------------------- > ----- > > Altruism is, almost indivisibly in my > > understanding, enlightened self-interest first > > (and maybe, or at least largely... > > > Bingo. > > Although, tevai, you have to admit that imagining > "energies" in the universe to work on/for/from > human behavior *is* a "magical superstition..." :)
When I was in high school (and maybe starting when I was in junior high) I thought I was going to be a nuclear physicist...beginning with undergrad at MIT because Caltech was not open to women undergrads then.
I am acutely aware of the energy bonds which exist within every atom and every molecule, and how these bonds expand past our planet...into our solar system...and thence into the universe...and (very likely) then into the multiverse, etc.
I am acutely aware of the energy bonds that bind people together in love, and in all of the other emotions as well (both positive emotions and negative emotions, since all aspects of emotional energy are on display around us constantly throughout our lives).
I am also aware that children thrive when they are loved...and deteriorate when they are disregarded or treated negatively.
I am constantly aware of the energy bonds between human beings and other animals and creatures. Take a dog or a cat into a prison or retirement home and let it interact with the people there and the people improve...and so do the animals involved.
EVERYTHING (literally!!!) is fundamentally "energy" of one kind or another.
"Everything else" (no matter how far back you go into solar system, etc. history) was created FROM energy, in one way or another.
"Energy" is the universal constant (or, at least, it is the universal constant that human minds are able to comprehend).
Any deeper understanding (which may well exist) is going to require human brains much evolved from their present, twenty-first century form...and this evolution is absolutely going to take a lot more time than any of us have in our present lifetimes.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/02/2015 03:55PM by tevai.
Don’t get me wrong tevai, I observe and work closely with karma every day. We’re living in times of instant karma, IMO … good and bad.
I just like to try and also place it into a logical perspective too, for a different way of thinking about it. I often find these sorts of thoughts can work from multiple points of view. But, I totally agree with your post, the Tao has taught me a great deal about how energy and intention affects the outer world, which we are indivisible from.
A long way of saying, tevai, I agree with you whole heartedly. We are one, after all, you and I. Why wouldn’t I help myself, right? More importantly, why would I hurt myself?
I just like approaching it from different levels sometimes, that's probably why I posted the way I did. But shhhhhh, don't tell anyone I have a woo woo too.
torturednevermo Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > It doesn’t necessarily boil down to a > superstitious belief in magic.
Um, I didn't suggest it was. Not sure where you got that. My reference to "karma" was to show that "karma" was an expression in religion/philosophy of a human reality, and NOT anything "superstitious."
Your later expressed thought, that altruism is nearly (if not always) actually somewhat selfish, is where I was headed -- and there we agree completely :)
ificouldhietokolob Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > torturednevermo Wrote: > -------------------------------------------------- > ----- > > It doesn’t necessarily boil down to a > > superstitious belief in magic. > > Um, I didn't suggest it was. Not sure where you > got that. > My reference to "karma" was to show that "karma" > was an expression in religion/philosophy of a > human reality, and NOT anything "superstitious." > > Your later expressed thought, that altruism is > nearly (if not always) actually somewhat selfish, > is where I was headed -- and there we agree > completely :)
ificouldhietokolob Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > Well, perhaps. > I would also suggest that most, if not all, > altruism is actually reciprocal altruism -- and > thus far less "selfless" than it might appear on > its face. Even if the expectation of reciprocity > is tiny, long-delayed, etc. > > That's sort of the idea expressed in "karma" -- > that doing good builds up a back of "good deeds" > that will "come back" to you in various ways. > > Plenty of us still do "good" for others just > because we think it's the "right thing to do." > But if we're really honest with ourselves, we do > still expect that the more we do good for others, > the better chances are that others will do good > for us. And there's nothing wrong with that. > > :)
I agree with the notion that doing good things isn't always 100% selfless, but not necessarily with expecting others to do good things for us.
I do think that "doing the right thing" because it's "the right thing to do" often results in instant gratification: we just did something good and feel good about ourselves. So... Instant reward. Doing the right thing, or a good thing, is simply often its own reward, no further expectations of good things happening to us necessary.
Edited to add: I also wholeheartedly agree that Mormonism promotes "doing good things" for others with the specific intent to make them indebted to you, so they will feel obligated to do good things for you (or behave in a way you want them to). I have always found that to be very manipulative.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/02/2015 03:16PM by fortheloveofhops.
I suppose even doing good with the hope that if everyone just acted that way, the world would be a better place, is still vaguely based on the notion of trying to create something better for yourself in the long run by way of a better world. So ok, there is no altruism after all, I suppose. :(
It’s interesting to look at the problem on its flip side, too. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve heard in life proclaim that why shouldn’t they dig in and take a little for themselves too, because everyone else is just going to do that anyway, so why should they sacrifice themselves. As if they just can’t stand the notion that the other guy might get a leg up on them or something. A competition for survival based on fear and lack. That’s a race to the bottom, IMO.
I do believe that a definition exists for Altruism because it's a real thing. At it's best, no one knows you're doing it when you do it and so no one can ever thank you.
I once saved a man's life. He knows it and I know it. We never met, we never spoke, he never saw my face and I only saw his briefly. I saved his life because I was in the right place at the right time, with the ability to project trajectories and a superior sense of 'do what is right.'
A guy in Mexico, whom I jokingly ID as one of the three Nephites, came up to me in a very busy bus hub in Mexico City and asked me where I needed to get to. I told him and he pointed out the bus I needed. He was in the right place at the right time, smart enough to figure out my plight and that superior sense of 'do what is right.' I'm 70 now, so he'd be about 109, so still alive as far as the church knows... No way we'd recognize each other...
But I remain perplexed about humanity because of one trait that is so common as to be the butt of jokes. Pretty much, as soon as a child learns to communicate, that child also learns to lie. Lying is such a logical means to an end! The wonder would be a human who couldn't lie.
I believe in altruism. And I believe that altruism does not exist within the mormon church. I believe the mormon church is the ultimate 'what's in it for me' organization and I challenge ghawd the father to prove me wrong. May he strike me dead before I can hit 'Post Message' if I'm wrong...
I waited ten seconds to give the all powerful creator of everything that exists (including double hoo-ha'd ladies) time to strike me down, but all that happened was that I thought about what (who!) I had to live for, then give him two more seconds, and then hit the post message button.
elderolddog Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- And I believe that > altruism does not exist within the mormon church. > I believe the mormon church is the ultimate > 'what's in it for me' organization and I challenge > ghawd the father to prove me wrong.
I agree with this. I left at age 18 (over 25 years ago now) due to the racist doctrine. I was warned/threatened that I was giving up my salvation.
My response was (and still is): what kind of worthless salvation is that, if a person is required to oppress other people in order to achieve it? How absolutely selfish does one have to be to accept racist (or sexist, or homophobic) teachings in order to further ones own "eternal progression"? That's when I knew the whole thing was a crock. At it's core, Mormonism is all about pushing other people down in order to raise oneself up. Disgusting.
I'm sorry for the rant, this is a trigger for me.
Ok, here's another story. When I was a teen, I was sent to one of those EFY things. It was a week long stay at BYU. One of the exercises they put us through consisted of sitting in a circle in the pitch dark so we couldn't see each other. We were asked to imagine we were in a dark cave, which was filling up with water. The spot we were in had only one shelf in the cave above the water level, and there was only room for one person on it. Everyone else would drown.
Then we were asked to report, in the pitch dark, to the group why we (each individual one of us) deserved to be on the shelf while everyone else drowned around us.
They would not let us go until we had each said something about why we should be the ones to live while everyone else died a horrible death. Some people said things like "I'm good at sports", or "I have good grades at school and will do something to better the world someday", etc. I said I would rather die, and they would not accept my answer. Finally I just said "I'm a good friend" to end the stand-off, but I also muttered under my breath "which is why I would not be on that shelf, you sadistic jerks."
No, I don't think so because I don't believe that if I treat someone well, it will necessarily come back to me. I suppose I do get some benefit however because it brightens my day when I have an opportunity to help someone.
Hey I am no saint but do get pleasure in helping another person when I can even when the person will never know I helped them. Found a wallet recently at the foot of my drive with contents scattered nearby. Noticed it was a student at the college I teach at. Dropped it off at the info kiosk in the front hall as soon as I got to work and asked guard to contact the student. I felt good all day about the chance to improve someone else's day that probably started out bad.
...and the person whose wallet you returned will feel much better...
...and they will hold open a door or something for someone who needs the help...
...and that person will smile at someone else who needs the acknowledgement that they exist and are important.
Once upon a time I was in a financial situation (not of my own making) that was so bad I was thinking seriously about suicide because I didn't know of any other "out."
I went outside, somewhere around midnight or maybe a little later, to walk. (There was a hill nearby which was safe to walk twenty-four hours a day.) As I was passing by a particular house on the other side of the hill, there was a guy outside, leaning on his car parked at the curb, talking on his cell phone. As I walked by he suddenly stopped his conversation and said to me: "Are you okay?" I didn't quite hear what he was saying, so he repeated: "Are you okay??" I told him I was, and started to go on, when he said: "It's a beautiful night...take care!!!"
And I started to cry, because SOMEONE had acknowledged me.
Sometimes, saying or doing something that is "nothing much" by most people's standards can save a life.
It did mine. :)
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/02/2015 09:46PM by tevai.