I think that real selflessness does not exist. Mostly, we do what appears to others to be selfless because of our own internal motivation or programming that makes us feel happier or more in balance when we give and look after others than when we don’t. Or because the payback for our selfless actions, however obscure to others, is very real for us, be it a need to be in control, believing selflessness will take us to Heaven, or ‘That’s how things are meant to be’. And while I understand being of service, if real selflessness does exist, I think it’s unhealthy because it is not sustainable.
Of course selflessness exists as an ideal. A point on a spectrum within which we choose how to exercise our free will to create new experiences. Imagine a line with complete selfishness at one end and complete selflessness on the other.
Complete selfishness is not sustainable because it closes the heart and stops the soul from expanding so even if a whole lifetime or several life times are dedicated to this exploration, eventually we have to let go of that extreme to experience more joy and love.
Complete selflessness is not sustainable either because it does not allow us to nourish our bodies or our emotions and most often creates dis-ease in the body, sometimes resulting in death (breast cancer, in my opinion, is a classic example of very loving people giving too much that is not sustainable in the long run).
Maybe one of the reasons we have a physical body for a while is to fully illustrate the concept of self-care? Because here on earth, in a physical body, no self-care means illness, pain and death. Deterioration. Is it possible that the same applies to the emotions and to the soul and that we need to care for our emotional health and souls in a way that is neither selfish nor selfless? Because balance is definitely part of enlightenment!
I think one of our lessons on earth is to learn to use our free will to determine where on that spectrum we can be fully healthy, meaning that we are cooperative and selfless enough to support the life and growth of others while being selfish enough to see to our own needs so we can keep going, nourished and replenished so we always have more to offer and share. Does that sound like a virtuous cycle?