Some give to save lives, alleviate suffering, or maintain human dignity. Some give in expectation of reward or to gain favor. Some give only to be recognized for their acts of kindness. True giving is not motivated by expectation of reward.
Selflessness is acting with unselfish concern toward the success of others. At its core, selflessness has a genetic purpose. Altruism is the surrender of individual genetic fitness for the enhancement of personal genetic fitness in others. In all species, individual fitness is measured by the number of one’s surviving offspring. The rate of population extinction declines as the frequency of the altruist gene in each population increases. Thus, selflessness is one mechanism through which DNA perpetuates itself.
The mainstream popular pursuits of meditation, yoga, and apparent mysticism are self-oriented. Introspection, deep reflection, and contemplation are helpful in self-development. ‘Looking within’ results in the ongoing process of self-definition, and clarification of one’s values and worldview.
‘Acting without’, in pursuit of the rights and well-being of others, is true selflessness. Humanitarian aid, environmental and animal rights activism, conflict prevention, volunteerism, and other selfless, practical actions contribute to a more just and peaceful world.