Altruism – active Prefrontal cortex
Every person is at a different level of awareness, know yourself!
Altruistic awareness is for self actualized individuals who are beyond seeking physical security, emotional stability and esteem needs (have surpassed the desire of receiving approval from their fellow men).
The aim of each individual should be to reach a state of total self-awareness, in order to experience all possibilities of perception, available to humankind.
The main reason for a person’s turmoil stems from their ignorance of not fully cognizing who they truly are.
As you begin to expand your consciousness beyond yourself, you start to realize (not just believe or have faith) that there is more to life and the universe than meets the eye.
“The desire that guides me in all I do is the desire to harness the forces of nature to the service of mankind” – Nikola Tesla
Musetude examines a neuropsychological model that reveals, scientific processes in the brain that could help usher in the age of altruistic co-operation, paving the way for a more humane, abundant existence for all. Just imagine an entire world populated by altruistic, ‘enlightened’ beings – this would be paradise, heaven on earth.
To manifest this vision, each individual needs to work impeccably on themselves first. As GI Gurdjieff states, “In order to be able to help people one must first learn to help oneself. A great number of people become absorbed in thoughts and feelings about helping others simply out of laziness. They are too lazy to work on themselves; and at the same time it is very pleasant for them to think that they are able to help others. This is being false and insincere with oneself. If a man looks at himself as he really is, he will not begin to think of helping other people: he will be shamed to think about it. Love of mankind, altruism, are all very fine words, but they only have meaning when a man is able, of his own choice and of his own decision, to love or not to love, to be an altruist or an egoist. Then his choice has a value.”
If we think in terms of altruism, an image comes to mind, of a place where everyone is sharing, caring, supportive, loving and nurturing. All are free and abundant.
This is a marvelous concept in theory because it doesn’t require you to change a thing about yourself or your awareness. Have you ever stopped to consider, in order for you to be a part of such a community you need to change too?
Most of us are so self-centered and self-important, we think we are already spiritual and virtually perfect. All selfish selves would love to be the only selfish person in a community full of unselfish people, not having to give unconditionally themselves or having to work on their own personal growth. They believe the community will support them regardless, and not give them a hard time about changing their selfish ways.
The founders at Musetude are not just researching this model but have lived the talk since the year 2000. They work on a non-salary basis.
All time, energy and money earned through workshop, fees or donations belong to the Trust with only a very minuscule amount spent on living expenses.
“Your purpose in life is to find your purpose and, give your whole heart and soul to it” – Gautama Buddha
The Musetude founders have chosen not to marry or have a family as this liberates them to devote all their time and power (without prejudice or preferences) unconditionally towards helping humankind – irrespective of family, country, or race. Although they want to emphasize this is just their path or journey this lifetime.
Each person has a unique path to follow. Some learn unconditional love through taking on the responsibility of a family and, then grow further awareness from this position.
Why be altruistic?
Many of us find it hard to understand altruistic people like Mother Teresa, Eleanor Roosevelt, Pythagoras, Tesla and religious figures such as monks etc. so believe being like them is completely unthinkable, thus we resort to dissing them while they are alive and admiring them after their death.
Although we all have altruism within us – during natural calamities like Tsunamis, floods, and earthquakes we do not think twice before we reach out a hand to help others in need selflessly. We stop playing with our “self” wants and desires during such situations. Why is it we require such drastic events to bring out our altruistic self?
It is most natural for a person living in the prefrontal cortex to be altruistic as it is for a person operating from their lower brains to be selfish.
The founders say they can’t imagine a life which doesn’t require them to give this earth experience their all – the height of their intuition, intellect, and spiritual experiences.
“This I tell you; decay is inherent in all conditioned things, work out your own salvation, with diligence” – Buddha.
A person who lives at their prefrontal cortex sees infinitely more, understands infinitely more. Imagine being able to ‘see’ the outcome of many of your actions in advance. By expanding awareness a lot of the energy that we expend on maintaining our esteem needs such as upholding our self-importance, would then be free to explore, the grander mysteries of the universe.
The founders live on a constant high, at their prefrontal cortex hence, don’t need the distractions of drinks, parties, shopping, holidays or drugs.
From the outside, looking-in at the lifestyle of altruistic people one would think their life is a bore, and, no one would willingly choose this way of life.
Infact, this way of life is the only challenge worth pursuing as it requires one to live at the peak of their humanness, the place of neutrality. Most people swing between the tides of pleasure and pain and find themselves tossed and turned by these tides. The pursuit of pleasure inadvertently brings with it, pain.
A person living at the height of their humanness neutralizes the swing of the pendulum, so even though the tides occur, they rise above them, and have learned how to use the swing instead of being used by it.
A transcendent lifestyle is perceived as boring to most. And to a transcended individual an average lifestyle with its constant swings of pleasure and pain shows weakness. A transcendents life is filled to the brim with freedom and purpose at its core.
The peace one experiences when in an altruistic state of consciousness is like nothing definable on our three-dimensional plane. Lack of knowledge blocks us from viewing the vast spectrum of possibilities at our disposal.
“Ego expands to fill the space not filled with knowledge.” -J Armstrong
Peace is experienced only when one learns to balance the amount they take with the amount they give. Most people thrive on the hormone of immediate pleasure (fame, money, power and sex), dopamine.
The Zen hormone Serotonin released by channelizing the motivational hormone dopamine produced in the limbic system towards the prefrontal cortex. It rids one of the reward based limbic system loops. And the automatic byproduct is altruism.
Change the way to think:
What if you really had an awareness of being one with everything, including God or the universe and, all other separate selves? How would you see things then? How would you treat everyone and everything? If you are fully cognisant that every person you are dealing with is ‘you’, just in a different form, how will your treat yourself (others)? Is there any point in stealing from yourself? hurting yourself?
In today’s world, society has programmed us to live at the base versions of ourselves, playing into our fear based mentality. We are taught to take as much as we can from society and live in fear of what others might take from us, or of what others have that we don’t. Even to the people we love we don’t put our heart on the line in case we get hurt. We watch what they give us in return to decide what we are willing to share. Each person expects to take and the other is expected to give in order to maintain the relationship. It is one sided on both sides.
What if this mentality changed? We are on earth for a short time. . .We are all going to die, might be in 20, 40, 60 or 80 years, we are going to leave this planet.
Wouldn’t it be an awesome feeling when departing this plane to think – I lived my fullest, gave my best and now I’m glad to move on.
The story of Musetude began 21 years ago, when their comfortable, upper-middle class lives were shattered by the death of their mother. At a very young age they were awoken to the fact that, humans leave earth empty handed – we can’t take any material possessions and accumulations of wealth with us. It got them thinking “what is the use of clinging?” As a result of this realization, they gave away many of their prized toys and possessions to some poor children who lived down the street from them in Mumbai. The feeling of having nothing to cling to relentlessly felt liberating. This was their first experience of the joy of being released from the material world, and of the corresponding joy they could bring to other human beings.
“What is wrong with us human beings, and has been wrong since time immemorial is that without ever stating it in so many words, we believe that we have entered the realm of immortality. We have as if we are never going to die – an infantile arrogance. But even more injurious than this sense of immortality is what comes with it: the sense that we can engulf this inconceivably universe with our minds.” – Carlos Castaneda
At Musetude the founders have continued to share, not their possessions because they have very few, but their knowledge, because it is the source of true contentment to give it freely. Sharing to them is not a chore, hard work or even the right thing to do. They say, it is the best feeling one can experience – what’s the point of hanging on? We leave it all anyway. At least in this way, when you leave, you leave free!!
“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” – Kahlil Gibran
If you are wanting to start giving altruistically, start by contemplating your motives for giving. When you are giving, what do you personally stand to lose or gain from that sharing? Is there a selfish motive involved at all?
A nice little altruistic exercise is to gift your friends, family or even a stranger something without your name tag attached to it. This insures that the giving is done for the right reasons, not for seeking approval or recognition. The only personal gain the giver gets, is the joy of doing something nice for someone else, the joy of giving unselfishly.
We as humans are naturally altruistic. We do not need to take special effort to become selfless. We need to merely stop the efforts we take to destroy this natural expression of who we inherently are.
“A mind unruffled from the vagaries of fortunes, from sorrow freed, from defilement’s cleansed, from fear liberated, this is the greatest blessing” – Buddha.
a. Neurological perspective
The brain has been evolving over thousands of years. The prefrontal cortex is the area of the brain unique to humans. But most of us operate mainly from our lower animalistic areas of the brain and limit the use of this unique area of our brain to a minimum. Humans, can care for all life, not only for their own kind and this stems from the fact that they have the prefrontal cortex.
Some interesting facts on the prefrontal cortex:
* Research on Buddhist monks has shown their prefrontal cortex being the only active area.
* Dr Jordan Grafman, studied behavior of people and found subjects with the highest charitable involvement in everyday life, had the highest level of activity in the prefrontal cortex.
* Research published by Prof Fehr and neuroscientist Prof Daria Knoch, of Zurich University, with Prof Alvaro Pascual-Leone, of Harvard in US Journal Science confirmed the right dorso-lateral prefrontal cortex is crucial for our ability to override selfish impulses. Thus altruism is hardwired in our brains.
b. Psychological perspective
The Humanistic psychologist Abraham Maslow studied “exemplary” people of society and concluded that there is a hierarchy of needs in humanity. Every human strives for higher needs only when the lower needs are fulfilled. Starting with the lowest physiological needs for survival followed by emotional needs and then esteem needs.
The highest need in the hierarchy, Maslow discovered is that of self actualization – creativity, altruism, harmlessness, limitless potential, peak experiences, silence and solitude, lack of prejudice, acceptance of facts and spontaneity.
Altruism in our society today:
Society today is geared away from altruism. Even cooperation that we witness in different fields like politics, business, and media is more like a symbiosis for personal needs. The need for self actualization becomes a priority at the end of active life and, at this old age, very few people have the energy, resilience and zest to reach it.
Today every individual is groomed through mass media and resulting peer pressure to compete to have better material possessions.
This is what underpins consumerism and the current economic growth model. Hence competition and need for domination have manipulated our thoughts and behavior.
Because of this focus, we have lost track of our highest purpose, which is ‘self-actualization’, instead we become preoccupied with self indulgence. When operating from this mentality, the separate self turns its attention to its self games and desires. We spend all our valuable time, energy and effort on indulging these lower self needs rather than realizing our heightened spiritual nature.
Today’s urban society is striving towards fulfilling esteem needs of the individual. But we can forever stay in this level and never be satisfied to move further to self actualization. Evolution will take hundreds of years to bring about this change.
Even children encounter this competition-domination based behavior from the time they enter school. Mainstream education is predominately directed towards excelling through competition. Most teachers, parents and other mentors operate from this model, because they think its easier to control the child and indoctrinate them into current ways of thinking and behaving.
We are trained from a very young age, to constantly compare ourselves to others and strive to be better than our peers. Instead of projecting the fight outside, we should be taught the only fight worth fighting, is the fight to ‘perfect the self’.
By focusing on competition we are telling our children that in order to get ahead we have to bring about the ruin of another, which we believe is our ladder to success.
Although when we sit with ourselves we know at an intrinsic level that, this model has failed us. Yet society deems this competitive behavior perfectly acceptable. Here is where we face for the first time a double perspective, one side is society conferring us with honors and medals for our fleeting moments of fame, while the other side is a restless knowing, even though everyone thinks we have won, we have lost, as we find no peace.
Charles Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest has proven itself in the evolution of species.
Humanities struggle for survival continues today – now it is no longer wild animals and harsh conditions that we are battling against, but the struggle to survive human domination and fierce competition.
“Competition has been shown to be useful up to a certain point and no further, but cooperation, which is the thing we must strive for today, begins where competition leaves off.” ― Franklin D. Roosevelt
This model was great when we didn’t come across information and inspirational stories, when the masses were uneducated and ignorant and didn’t question everything the way we are able to today. Although now in this information era, the technological age, we are flooded with feats of grandeur, we witness talent that shock our senses – human potential at its fullest!
Consciousness is raising as we evolve as a species, and in order to push ourselves to the limits of human possibilities, we don’t have to compete anymore. We can take inspiration from the world around us by mirroring others feats of magic using, ‘mirror neurons’ present in our brain.
This is an ideal way to learn. Rather than viewing others as a threat, a competition, we can reflect and mirror their attitude to carry out the awe inspiring task they are performing e.g. if you want to perform a highly technical piece of music by Richard Clayderman, watch Richard Clayderman, feel his music, become his music, mirror his music and just like that, you will find yourself playing his music. It is really that simple, as controversial as it may sound.
As we expand awareness, we realize we are part of the whole.
Albert Einstein stated “a human being is a part of a whole, called by us ‘universe’, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest… a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty”
Awareness can be expanded in many ways. The most important are these:
– Meditation – sit in silence and build energy which in turn grows awareness.
– Silent reflection and contemplation
– Sort through your long list of personality traits and identify where they have come from objectively.
– Communing with Nature
– Seek divination
– Associating with self-actualized individuals.
– Studying the great saints and seers
– Remembering that self worth doesn’t come from external achievements but, from growing personal awareness.
– The highest level of awareness is when you can see things as they are, not as you are.
– Being open to change, not fearing the unknown.
– Being comfortable with uncertainty and the rewards it offers.
– Question why are you hanging on to your self esteem needs, these weaken you as, you are at the mercy of your fellowman to uphold these ideals of appraisal. Why would you choose to hand over control, when you could be putting the same amount of effort into growing yourself?
Be brave, take a completely honest look within yourself. Are you truly impeccable enough to live in a perfect paradisiacal world? Look within, and see for yourself the things that still need perfecting and, be glad when you find an imperfection! It means, you are seeing clearly and you can do something about it. Be brave and face what you have been avoiding. Do the things that deep within you, you know you must do. There are many things to consider and, they will be revealed to you, if you are open, willing to change, and not resisting. Exchange your likes and dislikes.
“This being human is a guest house. Every morning is a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor…Welcome and entertain them all. Treat each guest honorably. The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.” – Rumi
A good start is to do one or two things for others every day, for which you expect nothing in return.
Musetude founders believe their purpose is to create a film that will change perception and at the same time revolutionize education. This is a huge project and requires them to selflessly spend all their time, energy and money sacredly, sincerely and live in a state of heightened focus to manifest this creation that will benefit humanity.
If everyone of us does our little bit, grows our awareness beyond me and mine, family, friends, country, race or species and towards the betterment of earth, this could help lead us into the age of altruistic cooperation naturally.
“So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours. Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life. Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people. Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide. Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place. Show respect to all people and grovel to none. When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself. Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision. When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song and die like a hero going home” ~ Chief Tecumseh Crouching Tiger)