ON DOING GOOD TO OTHERS
An aspirant abroad has sent a Question, an FAQ in fact, which is given below along with Master's Answer:
Question : Through the centuries, spiritual leaders have enjoined on us to do good to others. How are we to go about the job in a systematic manner? Will not altruism inflate our ego? If someone receiving our aid does not even thank us, how to manage the resulting feeling of resentment?
Sage TGN :
As you are
doubtlessly aware, mankind in its present shape and form evolved from the
animal kind and that is why we display beastly qualities from time to time like
vengefulness and rioting and warring. There is much philosophy in English
poetry but very little of poetry in Western Philosophy which for the most part
is didactic and speculated! The English Poet Alfred Lord
Tennyson (1809-1892) came up to the finding that Man is "the roof and
crown of things" but it is only a halting point. Man has to process
himself further and acquire divine qualities. "Why Sir?",
do you ask. I will explain with a simple example of water vaporising from the
vast ocean-surface. It rises into the atmosphere to become cloud and pours as
rain on the Earth's surface to charge
the subsoil from where it springs as rivulets and rivers to march in the
direction of and merge with its source and origin fons
et origo in Latin which is the ocean. It is restless
till it completes its journey. Likewise the life-energy or soul of man is only
an agglomeration of energy-particles pervading the entire Universal Space, and
these particles originated from the
In order to qualify for this Pilgrimage, we have to elevate our ourselves by adopting twin ingredients as our way of life: (i) Not causing any harm or hurt to any living being through our Thought, Word and Deed; and (ii) Going readily to the succour of any living being in distress in whatever manner we can. This second is what you refer to as "doing good" is your Question.
The first ingredient, called "ozhukkam" (ஒழுக்கம்) in Tamil philosophy ensures that further adverse imprints do not accumulate on our soul. The second is Eegai (ஈகை) which draws a favourable wave from the being helped by us and this positive imprint adds to the voltage of our soul which is enabled to throw off adverse imprints already acquired by heredity and our own thoughtless deeds in the days of our Ignorance of the Law of Nature which is synonymous with the Law of Action-and-Result.
Now to your doubt as to whether charity would inflate the ego. The pleasure and pain experiences due to us come only through the medium of a person or an object, and relief also comes in the same route. When you help someone you are only an instrument of Nature. A day earlier your aid would have been spurned; and a day later that person would have already been freed from that misery by someone other than you. By your act of help being accepted, the person to benefit is only yourself and the other being has provided you with an opportunity to get rid of an adverse imprint of yours. This Awareness would result in humility when you go to help and so ego would only be attenuated and not boosted. Remember that the society is not so poor as to be raised by you. Ramana Maharishi, when asked why social workers have not scored much success through the ages, replied matter-of-factly : "That is because they took credit for their work and thus nurtured their ego!"
If you feel resentment when a person does not even thank you for the help received, it is again the ego in play. Anyone entertaining expectation of any sort is only a mendicant; and it is an occupational hazard for a supplicant to be snubbed and turned away from the door. We should only be Givers at all times. J.Krishnamurti when talking about "do gooders" said once to a group. "Is it not a fact, Ladies and gentlemen, that you extend your begging bowl out because it is not full?" A Giver's status is supreme and it is unbecoming of him to stoop in expectation.