A many would be loony on the score of just rational cost-benefit analysis to risk death (for heaven's sakes) just so that he can avoid the discomfort of a guilty conscience (which is probably unjustified) thereafter. Can you imagine the man arguing with himself: "if I don't risk my life, the discomfort will be very great. So I'll risk the probability of death". It is preposterous.
Kenneth, a man doesn't sit there and justify or argue with himself prior to doing something. If man's actions are controlled by his spirit, then there's no time to reason the benefits of doing the action. We call it instinct but the spirit will act accordingly in a split second to satisfy spiritual needs. Twain offered several tests which proved to the student than man cannot control his spirit. It's the spirit that controls the man. An example could be in thoughts.
[INDENT] Later on today, put it into your head what you will think of first thing tomorrow. Whatever it is, place it in your mind so that the first thing you wake up in the morning, your mind with be thinking of the thought you had instructed to it. You'll find it very difficult to force your mind to think about what you have instructed it to.
It would depend on the circumstances. But I would say that often when someone helps others, it is in order to relieve them of distress. I suppose if that happens, it will make them happier than they were when they were in distress, and the agent had that in mind when he decided to help them. After all, if someone runs out of gas while driving, and needs help, and someone comes along who goes out of his way to take him to a gas station where he can get some gas, and then takes him back to his car, I imagine that the man who ran out of gas will be happier than he would have been if he had not been aided. Wouldn't you? And, wouldn't you think that the person who aided him would have that in mind? I hope this example makes the point clear.
The agent in the above paragraph brought himself spiritual contentment and peace of mind because of how it made the agent feel helping another man out in need. Sure, it made the day of the stranded guy and it was probably appreciated... and in turn, this brought the agent spiritual contentment because he felt good about what he had done.
Why did he stop in the first place? The agent could have driven by. However, if he had done that, in this case, the spirit of the agent would have suffered discomfort because of the thoughts he was having. The agent would have felt uncomfortable because he didn't stop. Sure helping the guy is the immediate thought but if he didn't help when he could have, he would be struggling with himself and his spiritual contentment. Thoughts could have raced through his mind.
After the act, both the stranded fellow and the agents' spirits smile with contentment. In the case above, the agent could do no other than the leadings of his spirit in search of contentment.
This guy that was stranded could be an escaped convict or a murderer... the agent doesn't know him. Does the agent care?... not really because what matters to him is the he doesn't pass the opportunity to satisfy his own spirit.
The beauty of it is that it is a win-win situation for both. When you make someone else feel good, most often it makes you feel good. Our intentions might not be selfish, but the spirit will lead the man to none other than it's own peace of mind and spiritual contentment. If it's in balance with the Universe, everyone involved will win.
Let's take a greater look at this. Offer circumstances in which this would not be the case. We can break them down further like Twain did to find the underlying principle.
Does this make any sense?
- What you do to another person you do to yourself.
- The world is a reflection of what we reflect into it.
- When you hurt your neighbor, you hurt yourself.
- If you make another mans' spirit suffer discomfort, your spirit will suffer discomfort.
So, is it selfish or is it selfless? Either way, when we lift another human being, we lift ourselves. This could be construed as selfish but the principle of it goes back centuries and is also a message in the Bible.
Great thread! Look forward to more reading on this, thank you all for sharing your thoughts.