Selfless deeds don’t matter

Memorial plaque dedicated to Mother Teresa by ...

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A few weeks earlier when I was having a conversation with my nephew this topic came up. He said there is ni deed as selfless deed. We all see people around us praisung selflessness and any selfish acts are seen with disgust. The big question is do people know of an act is selfish or not? And is there a deed that can truly be defined as selfless?

Selfish deed can be defined as a deed that has been done for self interest or happiness. Ones selfishness leads one to do things that are directed for their own benefit. Any selfish deed will only mean their own benefit.

A selfless deed can be defined as a deed that has been dine without any self interest and only for the benefit of the others. A true selfless deed should not bring any benefit to the one who is performing the deed.

Now that we have the definitions out of the way, lets think abiyt his would you judge a deed to be selfish or selfless. Okay, did the definition not cover it? I think it did, but lets see that I be again. A deed that has been acted upon without any self interest will be considered as selfless only if there are alternatives that exist and are more profitable for the person acting upon it. However, a true or an absolute selfless deed would mean that the action has absolutely no benefits irrespective of the options available. I. Other words, if there are more profitable options availabe, the deed performed should bit have any benefits even if they are lesser. Anything else is selfish (phew that was easy).

The next big question is – how are the benefits quantified? The can be material or emotional. Lets say, if I was to do charity for an organization run by a friend or a colleague, and in return I expect to bb benefited in a contract or job than that is material benefit. But, if I do charity for an independent organization where I know no one and I don’t expect any returns, I am doing it for my internal peace and happiness. So now, if we take this argument and apply it all deeds and say that every deed is for self-hapiness then it implies that big deed cna be selfless. Everything that is done is don’t for an emotional or internal benefit. Every person has some interior motive to do it.

The last part may be philosiphical, but it is interesting and eventually leaves no room for any other discussions. I do nit know if I have an answer for it yet, but I do feel it very intriguing. Why? Simply because if thus is true, then all the praise that goes in for selfless deeds is nothing but a hypocritical, the praise itself would imply that the person who has done a deed with openness had an interior motive of getting praise out of it and hence getting benefit in the society of being a “better person”.

Now, having said all that, I think of Saint Mother Teresa and all the good she has done, and it breaks my heart to call her selfish. However, if I apply the same rule to her then she was very selfish. Now that simply can’t be true. But, the logic takes me there.

And makes me sad to think that it is these so called “selfless and great” people who get the most out of it and other who have motives of salvation and happiness are left behind. Ever heard of “neki kar kuain main daal” (do good and forget about it, don’t tell it). That is something which is a rare commodity today.

Thinking all this, I have come to a conclusion that it don’t matter if a deed is categorized as selfless or selfish, as long it is a good deed. If the society can go past the selfless act and praise all good deeds, the world would be a better place to live in.