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By Thomas F. O'Neill

Altruism vs. Egoism in the modern world

{For author's background and interests in Psychological methods, please click his byline)

It was approximately 12 years ago that my interests led to an extraordinary opportunity to work as a volunteer with a friend who teaches Neuro-Linguistic Programming at a satellite office that is part of the University of Virginia's Psychology Department.

Neuro-linguistic programming is basically a method of understanding how humans process information subjectively through their belief system. The majority of people do not realize that most of our understanding of reality is processed through our beliefs of what reality is rather then what is objectively real. What we see, hear, and feel is processed through our mind and becomes relative to our beliefs rather then what is real on an objective level.

The average person basically limits their reality to what they believe their reality is on a subjective level. They also come to understand the language of things without fully grasping the essence of things due to the mind filtering out our objectivity. However, when we come to a greater understanding of a persons world view in how they perceive and understand reality. We come to a greater understanding of how their mind processes the world around them through their subjective beliefs.

On a psychological level if we what to understand how a person thinks, we must utilize their beliefs, their language, and how they perceive and processes information from the world around them. We must also have a clear understanding of what their beliefs are in order to truly understand them on a cognitive level. In other words, how a persons mind processes and filters information from the objective world is determined by their belief system.

A person's reality is relative to their beliefs of what reality is and their relationship to that reality. Highly successful people can place themselves in the center of things by utilizing other people's beliefs in order to gain their trust. We all have core beliefs, and when we gain an understanding of a person's beliefs. We come closer to understanding their ego and how they perceive themselves in relation to others. To gain peoples trust people must be comfortable and feel as if you think like them, that you perceive the world through their eyes. This can only be accomplished by utilizing the person's beliefs.

I suppose that is one reason why religion and mythology is so powerful because of how it affects the human psyche. It is passed down from one generation to the next to the point where it becomes the core reality for each individual on a collective level. It clouds the objectivity of our reality and we become the slave of our own beliefs. If we want to move closer to the objectivity of things we must strip ourselves of all beliefs. In other words, the objective reality is not what we think it is or what we believe it to be. It is simply the essence of what we truly are which is beyond our comprehension. It can only be experienced because it is simply life itself. We can never fully comprehend realities objectivity because we are limited to our own subjectivity. That is why we cannot limit reality to our simple beliefs or what we want reality to be.

In other words, if you want to understand all that there is to understand. You must begin by striping yourself of all beliefs, symbols, and all that you understand yourself to be, including the persona that you present to others. Then you must turn inward and slowly and patiently seek your very core and gaze at the essence that makes you truly you. There you will discover serenity, patience, contentment, and most of all the essence of your love.

What we believe reality to be and how we perceive ourselves in relation to those beliefs and our relation to others are based on our ego. In order to grow and mature spiritually we should make a distinction between what is altruistically true and what is egoistically true. Most of the time what we implicitly and intuitively know to be true stands in total contrast to our ego which is part of our core belief system.

If you are doing things to feel important or to gain the recognition of others, you are working from your ego. On the other hand if you do something spontaneously because you know implicitly and intuitively it is the right thing to do at that particular moment you are operating altruistically from your true self.

There is also the distinction between being truly spiritual and being religious. Religion operates out of our core belief system. It is part of our ego most people are born into their religion it is a part of their identity. They continue in their religion throughout their life because they want to feel accepted, they want others to see them as being a good person and to please their God so that they will be accepted into heaven after death.

There is a quid pro quo (this for that) behind religion we pray for favors, blessing, and miracles, as if God is some sort of divine Bellhop. When we ring a bell God comes and carries our emotional baggage. Religion in most cases takes the responsibility away from us and places the responsibility on the mythological such as original sin. Most religions communicate to us that we are not responsible for what we are and that we have to wait for God to change us and save us from our fate such as the second coming. Religion can separate us from who we truly are because it builds on our ego. It blinds us from what we know implicitly and intuitively to be true, within us, and in those around us.

Altruism leads us closer to being truly spiritual because it leads us to our essential core which is beyond our beliefs and comprehension. Our essential core, soul, or what we come to understand as our spiritual nature is life itself. It is synonymous to what we think we understand as being God. Altruism is what we implicitly and intuitively know in the flash of the moment to be true. We don't always act on it because we are always in the fog and cloud of our ego. However, those whose lives are truly altruistic are rarely seen or heard they live relatively quite lives. Their unrecognized and unseen acts of giving has a profound effect on humanity as a whole. Through their spirituality their very being becomes a selfless act of giving.

I like to use the example of a solder in a foxhole. He is sharing the foxhole with four other solders and the enemy throws a hand grenade in the foxhole. One of the solders jumps on the hand grenade sacrificing his life for his fellow man. He didn't jump on the grenade to win the congressional medial of honor from the President of the United States, to have a Ship named after him, a building erected in his honor or to have future solders honor him. The moment he jumped on that hand grenade he implicitly knew it had to be done and he just did it. Because, it was the right thing to do and he was being true to himself in that spontaneous moment in time. It was an altruistic spiritual act of selfless giving without any expectation of receiving anything in return that is true courage.

Imagine what the world would be like if we followed our intuition from day to day and we lived not by religious creeds, dogmas, or unjust mandates but by what we implicitly know to be true.

I am reading more and more about scientists making revolutionary breakthroughs and scientific discovers through flashes of intuition. Albert Einstein wrote in a letter to a friend that his greatest ideas came to him when he was relaxing and taking long hot bubble baths. His mind was not concentrating on the problem at hand but in enjoying a relaxing moment with his imagination. They are the moments when truth speaks to us intuitively through flashes of knowing.

I have also come to understand that science and spirituality are beginning to merge and compliment each other in our technological age. It is due to humanity striving to comprehend realities essence which is the core of all things. Modern science is not dismissing the spiritual essence of things. It is just beginning to see the infinite and the infinitesimal sodalities and order of things such as in quantum mechanics. Where energy is neither created nor destroyed. Quantum mechanics complements our spiritual understanding and brings us closer to recognizing the infinite and the infinitesimal presence of the eternal.

When the religious seek the grandiose signs of God they overlook the infinite and the infinitesimal sodalities of Gods eternal presence. I understand that eternal presence as being the eternal love of God. That eternal love is within us and around us for our existence and the existence of all things is the altruistic outreach of God's eternal Love.

Click on author's byline for bio.


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