Quite often we meet the "giving yourself up" principle when exploring spirituality, sometimes called "self-giving" or "offering of oneself". While it may be a simple concept, it appears that it is very wrongly mistaken with a sacrificial one, quite regularly. In another word, give what you have until you don't have anything left, or even forget yourself and focus on other.
To put it gently, the natural comparison between the spiritual topic in question and these tendencies would be well illustrated by putting a sign saying "All excess go that way" next to one stating "Light yourself on fire so it can be warmer".

Quite different directions, I hope you can see it. In fact being self-giving is all but a foolish suicide or self-extortion. Quite the contrary actually.
To understand it better, I think the best way to approach it is through a very physical explanation.

If your act is like giving water to a thirty throat in a hot climate. You have a full glass, someone else has an empty one. You give your full glass to your neighbor. Now he is not thirsty anymore. You are. So globally no suffering has ended, it has only transferred.

What spirituality allow to do is to improve happiness globally, reduce suffering globally, and support human growth globally all through individual actions. But here, as you can see, the sacrificial conception is simply inefficient and even damaging globally. Indeed, you used your energy to make this exchange, so you end up with less than you started and your neighbor just with what you had. So this is a strictly losing situation.

Now you may think, why not split then? Well, it doesn't work either in the case of "one full glass required to quench the thirst". You would both be in a state of half hydration, the situation wouldn't be changed either.

But what would be the message behind the self-givingness promoted by so many wise men? It actually is referring to a situation where you have what you need, and even more that you don't. Well, that's really specific, isn't it? Of course, if you have more then what you need you will give away to help! After all, if you are not thirsty anymore, you won't be even less thirsty after the first drink, may as well give it to someone who is!

Now, let's look at how many clothes you have in your wardrobe, and how much do you usually put simultaneously. I bet you rarely put more than 4 or 5 items, isn't it? And yet how many do you own? 20? 30? More? Now let's talk about bank account. How much saving "in case of thirst" have you done while so many ARE in thirst. Well, that's not the same, you may think, this is "real life". Actually, this is your life. The life where you have this choice and the responsibility that is linked to it.

The choice of giving a bit of extra comfort, so that others can have the life they need.

But I am sure you get the point. To whom will you give what they deserve?

Adrien Zanetta

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Photo crediting : Matt Collamer