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Altruism in action

By Matthieu Ricard on May 31, 2019

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Altruism is a natural manifestation of human goodness, of which we all have the potential, despite the many, often selfish, motivations that cross and sometimes dominate our minds.

Choosing altruism over selfishness

The search for selfish happiness is doomed to fail for several reasons.
Being self-obsessed leads us to look at the world in a distorted mental mirror. Inside the bubble of the ego, the slightest annoyance can take on enormous proportions; it makes us unhappy and we then pass on that unhappiness to those around us.

Selfishness is also a fundamental error. It is based on the premise that each person is an individual entity, living independently from others. But in reality it is quite different. We are not autonomous and our happiness can only be built with the help of others. Our physical existence, our survival, our comfort, our health, etc. depends on others and on what the outside world provides us. Understanding this makes it easier to empathize and to want happiness for others, to respect their aspirations and to feel concerned by their state of being. Altruistic love is the source of a profound feeling of fulfilment!

Cultivating altruistic love

There are two types of altruistic love. The first, natural love, is acquired automatically. It reflects the instinct to care for our children, our loved ones, people we are responsible for, and more generally, those who treat us with kindness. This form of altruism comes naturally and does not require practice but remains limited due to several factors: our relationships with people, their actions towards us, etc.

The other altruistic love develops through practice. It requires us to perceive the needs of more people, including those we would consider strangers or enemies. It needs us to recognize the value of every sentient being, including our fellow human beings and all other species we coexist with on our planet.

Acting for a more altruistic society

In order for things to change and for society to evolve, we must dare to embrace altruism. Dare to say that altruism exists and can be cultivated by everyone. Dare to seriously consider the fate of future generations and, above all, dare to proclaim that altruism is not a luxury, but a necessity.

To do this, we must cultivate altruism at the personal level and then promote it and help it to spread. It is also essential to unite in a common movement the various efforts to build altruism and cooperation.With Karuna-Shechen, the organization I co-founded in 2000, we humbly work to extend altruism. Join us! Be the bearer of this message, share it, and help spread altruism by joining the #OnAction movement.

Join us by creating a fundraising campaign that supports our projects in India and Nepal. Create solidarity and unite your family and friends around your project and altruistic values.

Let us all act together for a better world!

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