Unselfish altruism

David Brin

David Brin

“Unselfish altruism can emerge out of satiation, satiation, empathy, and sympathy, as well as cultural and individual values.”  ~  David Brin

Unknowingly, David Brin pointed toward asceticism as I have come to think of and feebly work toward. At least, as I am beginning to experience those, as yet unrecognizable satisfactions,  my hesychastic efforts are picking up momentum. Oddly, by withdrawing from the world we learn, experience and so live out a deep satiation of our needs. But, I knew before attempting this fashion of being withdrawn from reality my needs, at least as I imagined them would remain on the outskirts.

Today, all those needs I knew before are still pretty well unsatisfied. As Brin points out, we all rapidly cycle through having some needs briefly satisfied. On the other side of those brief times are large amounts spent trying to take care of myriad levels of hunger pangs. Some are physical discomforts and needs, but most are rooted into our social worlds. We do need people and we need those things we use to be with people.  monk-praying-in-sunsetSo then, how is it that I dare say I am beginning to be satisfied by spending time saying one version or another of the Jesus Prayer?

Well, I have begun to catch sight of a pleasure. My tummy doesn’t need to be filled to sense the joy of quietness. It is not a cessation of myself, but rather knowing that self in a relationship I had not known before. It is kind of like the difference between a having a knife put to my throat by a patient and spending any time adoring someone someone who returns that adoration.

It was and still is those practices which have turned that question on its head. Losing sense of needing to meet any level of my real needs, somehow frees up my abilities to meet those needs. I am not becoming successful at meeting all my needs. Rather, what little peace I have begun knowing makes accepting where I am a little easier. In a way, this kind of satiates my needs, which in that odd fashion makes David Brin’s point.

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