May 18, 2015 by Dymphna 17 Comments

Selfishness and the art of generosity


It’s a fine line between being clear and strong in what you want, and becoming a spoilt brat. The art of generosity is the key.

“Some of this new-agey stuff sticks in my throat a bit.”

Kathy, late 30s. Spiritual but not religious. Open-minded but not flakey. Good friend. Not her real name.

“I mean, I’m pretty sure there’s more to the show than we can see. And it does seem like the universe is responsive at some level. What you put out seems to come back to you.

But a lot of it just seems a bit, you know, self-absorbed. ‘Manifest the life YOU want!’ ‘Let the Universe love YOU.’ ‘YOUR destiny is waiting for YOU!’

You, you, you. It’s all about YOU. Don’t worry about the planet, or your community or your family. It’s all about you.

It’s like all these gurus are only interested in encouraging you obsess about your own needs and wants.

It’s like an invitation to stick your head up your own arse.”

I laughed. Kathy had been to see one too many ‘motivational gurus’. Now, she was done with them. A few dozen seminars, a coupla hundred biscuits and cups of tea, and she had still never really found what she was looking for.

And it wasn’t like she disagreed with what they were saying. On the whole she actually agreed with it – with the pictures they were painting of how the world works.

But it was never the full picture.

And intuitively she just couldn’t embrace the story that she was the centre of the universe. That the whole universe was geared around what-ever she was putting out there – manifesting whatever she wanted it to.

That the universe was her servant.

And she could see the seductive trap in that kind of thinking – in giving power to the idea that the whole universe revolves around you, and the only thing that should ever happen is whatever you want to happen.

“It’s all about me, and if I don’t get my way I’m going to do my na-na.”

What good is it learning how to manifest material abundance if the process just turns you into an emotional toddler?

Into a selfish brat?

No one wants that.

I didn’t really know what to say to Kathy. I mean I could see what she’s saying. I think a lot of the flakier new-age stuff just coddles you in being indulged and self-absorbed.

But I do have my experience.

And I feel that whatever you put out there comes back to you. I don’t know how it works but I feel I’ve seen it in action. Bring yourself regularly into a space of gratitude, and you will find you have a lot to be grateful for.

Be clear with your intention, focused in your goals and desires, and the universe seems to conspire to lay opportunities at your feet.

“Pronoia: the belief that everybody is out to help you.”

I don’t know why, and I don’t know what it means, but that’s just how it seems to work. That’s my experience.

And a lot of successful people I know use techniques based on this idea to achieve amazing things. I’m not alone on that one.

But in some ways, manifestation tricks are like putting a credit card in the hands of a child.

Give a child unlimited resources, and they’ll gorge on short-term sensory experiences (jet-boats), or fluff up their egos with displays of wealth and power (jet-boats).

It doesn’t do the child any good.

So I think we need to work on the child as well. We need to tame our insecurities and become disciplined in generosity.

If we become selfless — actually, I don’t really like the term ‘selfless’. We often use it to describe the tendency to be self-sacrificing – to willingly give up what we want so others can have what they want.

But that doesn’t make sense in an abundant world. Why would anyone need to give up anything? And so the first option has to be this – to be strong in what you want, and seek win-win outcomes.

And so let’s not go with ‘selfless’. Let’s stick with generous.

Anyway, I think time spent learning the art of generosity is time well spent.

First, it’s just a nice way to be. I think it’s one of our highest and most noble expressions. And it’s a fun way to experience yourself.

When you can give the people you love things they love, it feels great. (Same goes for random strangers.)

So before we get too lost in the rabbit warren of satisfying our own selfish wants, we should learn the joy of generosity.

The other point is that I’m not sure you can ever really skill up completely in manifesting amazing things in your life without letting go of selfishness.

I mean, selfishness comes from a sense of lack – from a sense that there isn’t enough to go around and you need to get yours.

But if you really believed in an abundant world – a universe just champing at the bit to make wonderful things happen in your life – selfishness just wouldn’t make sense.

And you wouldn’t need to plug holes in your life with cars, and massive houses and jet-boats. You would be safe in the knowledge that everything you need for your happiness is already available to you.

So that’s what I reckon. Unless the art of generosity is central to the practice, I think we are probably just chasing our tails.. and we risk becoming indulged and selfish brats.

That doesn’t sound great. Let’s avoid that, hey?

Any tips for skilling-up in the art of generosity?