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  Opinion   Oped  17 Feb 2018  Mystic Mantra: The power of altruism

Mystic Mantra: The power of altruism

Moin Qazi is a well-known banker, author and Islamic researcher. He can be reached at moinqazi123@gmail.com
Published : Feb 17, 2018, 3:58 am IST
Updated : Feb 17, 2018, 3:58 am IST

Mankind’s faith in God and human beings is revealed in small acts of kindness, brotherhood or sisterhood in our day-to-day lives.

Representational image
 Representational image

I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.
Rabindranath Tagore

When asked to express in one word the key to happiness, Confucius replied, “It is altruism.”

And what is altruism? It is a total orientation away from self to the good of others, to the sharing of joys and sorrows of the whole world.

Deep in our hearts, most of us yearn for our lives to be useful. Faces that smile as a result of a helpful gesture we have extended provide an inner joy of an intensity that is far greater than any material reward can provide.  

In serving others, we feel how similar we are as human beings, bound and interconnected as we are by a shared feeling — an emotion or an understanding of something that is often inexplicable.

It is a feeling that cleanses away the dross of everyday material life from the soul. To use the words of Albert Schweitzer, “I am life that wants to live, in the midst of life that wants to live.”  

True fellowship lies in service. Service is an offspring of love and compassion, and is sustained gracefully when it is not rooted in self-advertisement It energises the “feel good” hormones so that we feel love and joy pulsing through our veins.

When we reach out to others, we learn of a universal human hunger — to be needed.

It makes us become more accepting, less judgmental and kinder to ourselves and others.

Mankind’s faith in God and human beings is revealed in small acts of kindness, brotherhood or sisterhood in our day-to-day lives.  

We do not have to go out and look for an opportunity. It stands before us all the time, and we need only to do (well) the work we have been given.

The motto of the world’s pioneer social service organisation, Rotary International, is worth quoting:“He perfects most who serves best.” Each individual has to rise above his own petty goals and think of the larger humanity upon which his own individual prosperity depends. The key is to revive the compassionate values that are the DNA of our true nature, and shed the mental filters nurtured by our malignant egos that have blinkered our moral vision.

The new cultural paradigm assumes that people are primarily driven by material self-interest. If this had been the case, our society would have withered long back. The fact that our world still remains a beautiful place is evidence of the richness of altruism in the moral fibre of our society.


Love liberates love: it is as direct and miraculous as that. Working for the less cared for gives us inner strength.

Deep in our hearts, most of us yearn to be useful, and hope that we can wipe away a few tears, because we know the joy which this simple act generates. No amount of hormones can produce that natural verve of ecstasy.

German physicist Albert Einstein’s wonderful advice sums up  his noble philosophy: “A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labours of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving.”

Tags: altruism, love