There was a time in my life when my thoughts and motivations centered on getting high. I was a junkie. Most of my energy and efforts were spent trying to fulfill my immediate desires. I took what I could get from the world and offered little or nothing in return.
Consequently, I lived in misery. My obsession to fulfill my desires with immediate bliss did nothing but drain happiness and bliss from my life. My family and friends who loved me found that their love was squandered.
Anyone who has lived with or loved an active addict knows that addiction brings nothing but pain and misery for everyone in or near the addicts path. Addiction is a void that consumes everything it touches.
The addict lives on the extreme selfish end of a continuum between selfishness and selflessness. Consequently, they live in misery and bring misery to anyone they touch.
On the other end of this continuum are those who live in service to others: those who give what they can give and ask for little or nothing in return. People who spend their energy and efforts letting go of their own desires are the ones who find themselves living in bliss.
Most of us live somewhere in between these extremes. We fit giving and service into our lives wherever we can, and we spend the rest of our time chasing our desires. Yet, the irony applies to us all. Just as the miserable drug addict feebly chases pleasure, the more we focus and obsess over our desires, the more misery we find in our lives. And, as we let go of our desires and offer ourselves in selfless service to others and to our God, the more pleasure and bliss we find in our lives.
My path through drug addiction to a meaningful life of spiritual growth has made this dichotomy clear. Being of service to others is one of the most significant actions I can take to not only relinquish the pain and misery of addiction, but also to bring joy and meaning to my life that surpasses anything that I would have every thought possible.
The path of selfishness is anything but self-serving. Rather, it leads to self-loathing, which leads to self-destruction and desperation, which in turn, leads to deeper selfishness.
The path of selflessness is not sacrificial. It is the path of fulfillment and bliss.