Self-Interest

Now to your other question:

Do you agree with me that anything done for promoting survival chances is good (with long-term prospects considered)?

 

My response is a big NO. Your question comes in the context of your statement, “We sacrifice something because we are likely to receive something back and anything that promotes ones survival chances is good.”

Only keeping your personal interest at the core and sacrificing something to receive something back either for short-term or long-term prospects never brings personal satisfaction. At the end of Mahabharata, Vidura clearly states, “For the sake of a family, a member (of that family) may be sacrificed; for the sake of a village, a family may be sacrificed; for the sake of a town, a village may be sacrificed; and for the sake of one’s own soul, the earth may be sacrificed. [Vidura to Dhritarastara] (62:11)— M.N.[Manmatha Nath] Dutt, Mahabharata, Delhi, Parimala Publications, 1988. P. 401

But when we read such statements in any scripture out of context then we will misinterpret and misunderstand them. For example, when a sannyasi sacrifices this world (with all its pleasure) for the personal need of mukti, he becomes selfish. The Upanishads clearly prescribe that “Neither by work, nor by progeny, nor by wealth one attains mukti but only through renunciation.” {Brhad-aranyaka Upanishad, 4.4.22)

But the same sannyasi dharma also demands that once a sannyasi claims that he found his mukti through his sacrifice (not coming back to this world by rebirth etc.), he is under a moral or spiritual obligation to serve others ‘selflessly’ to help them to find the same TRUTH. This is one of the main teachings of Buddhism also (as Bhodisatta comes back to the society to help others).

As a sannyasi I never agree with this dictum that only by renouncing everything one can attain mukti. Our same Indian tradition points that to attain mukti there is not only one way.

Here’s what I’m trying to say: no religion promotes sacrificing for the sake of keeping your personal interests in mind, or even just for survival. A normal human being who has a conscience can never do that and still remain happy or survive. That is why we are called ‘social animals’. This is completely different from individualism and an individualistic approach to life.