When we do something for others without expecting anything in return we are being selfless. Selflessness means not thinking about ourselves, seeing instead to the welfare of others. It is a virtue to be selfless.
P. Kalyanasundaram of Chennai had always wanted to become a professor. But he had a soft voice. He realized that his students would not be able to hear him properly. So, becoming a teacher was not the right thing for him to do. He became a librarian. In 1962, there was a war between India and China. Kalyansundaram was 22 years old. He went to the chief minister of his state and donated all his jewellery to the war fund. When he retired in 1998, he had savings of Rs 35 lakhs. He donated the whole of it to help people. He now lives earning Rs.20 a day ironing clothes for the people of his neighbourhood.
Being selfless need not mean doing something big or great, which only powerful and rich people can do. It is enough to do the little things that we can for others. Mother Teresa, who spent her life working selflessly in the service of the poor, once said, “We cannot do great things on this earth. We can only do small things with love.”
One can be selfless in many ways. We can be selfless by sharing what we have with others. We can be selfless by being kind, by helping, loving and wishing good things for others. We feel happy when we do something good for others. It gives us a sense of satisfaction.
In 2004 thirty students of Indian Institute of Management (IIM) at Ahmedabad started taking turns to teach the children in the slums in their neighbourhood. They do this just one hour a day to teach them to read and write. Eighteen students of Salesian College in Dimapur, Nagaland, do the same. 12-year-old Aashna Lucas of Port Blair took on the task of teaching the children who were left homeless by the tsunami of December 2004.
66 year old Jaydev Desai is a project manager in a private engineering firm in New Jersey in the USA. In his spare time he collects donations and sells gift cards to raise money to help poor people in India. He gets 5 cents for every dollar of gift cards he sells. Since 1975 he has collected and donated $235,000 to various charitable institutions in India.
We never lose anything by giving or sharing what we have with others. The more selfless we are in giving or in helping, the more we receive. The more peace and love we bring into the lives of others, the more of them we bring into our own.