CHENNAI: The instinct for self preservation is natural for human beings. In the search for security, we invest our energies in consolidating wealth, power, career, etc., thinking that it will provide a strong fortress. We think we love the people around us, namely husband, wife, brother, son, father, mother, etc. But in reality, all our acts, thoughts and words that seem to be propelled by our love for others is only a manifestation of our own love of ourselves, said Swami Suddhananda in a lecture.

The Upanishads explain the true nature of love in the context of human relationships. "It is not for the sake of the husband that the wife loves the husband, but for the sake of the Self that she loves the husband, because she loves the Self.”

The same logic is applied to the love shown to the wife, children or wealth. It is thus clear that in the love and care shown to people, the individual Self reckons the extent of benefit or satisfaction the relationship is likely to bring about.

Likewise, though we care for our material possessions, the Self does not think twice to sacrifice these if there is a risk for one's life at the cost of these. Even our acts of worship to God are tagged on to self-gain. We seek favours from Him and as Lord Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita, a devotee who seeks God for His sake is rare to find.

Taking care of oneself is perfectly acceptable, but the hesitancy to share what one has with others after one's wants are fulfilled is the core of selfishness.

When caught in dire straits one needs to fend for himself. For instance, during an emergency in an aircraft in flight, each one naturally reaches for the oxygen mask for survival. But after one has managed to do this he should help others who are struggling. Likewise when one is comfortable and others are not, one has to show kindness and extend help.

Gaining wealth is not selfishness. But the tragedy of the modern day is that there is much affluence with a small percentage of people while a majority of others are struggling with poverty.

While those who have much wealth long for more, what they have is not distributed.