For pray tell, where can I find a selfless man?
Is he in the community garden pulling weeds?
Is he at his parish soup kitchen dispensing food to the needy?
Is he teaching his children to do well in school and behave as well-mannered people?
All appear selfless in their deeds; none truly are. Not them, and not the saints nor the pope, not the nuns and monks, and not the martyrs nor disciples. All have their interests, their reasons, and their justifications.
He who pulls weeds loves the feeling of working outdoors; he who serves soup loves to think of himself as charitable; he teaches his children wishes to see his ideas and his beliefs carry on in the world when he is gone. All of them are concerned solely with what they want, and what they desire.
Pray tell, where is one who is selfless?
Where is one who considers not his needs, but those of others alone? He has been found, but he is no longer: selflessness is for the dead.
For how else can it be other than that you tend to your own needs alone? What other way is there to live? To your needs alone you have access, after all. Anything you have done, you have done for the needs you feel, and the wishes you have. Whether these wishes involve others, which we, in our ignorance, deem noble and charitable, or whether they involve only you does not matter, for the impulse to act comes entirely in an effort to please yourself. Either you please yourself through helping yourself or you please yourself through the pleasure you gain from pleasing others.
And my, how wicked is that man who is so charitable that he begins to see other people as mere objects to help and gain pleasure for himself, all while telling himself he is selfless.
I will tell you this: the self is all you have. If you act upon any thought or desire, you act upon the desires of the self. It cannot be any other way. He who has no concern for himself is either dead or asleep. He who acts without concern for himself is mentally idle.
You sin not in your selfishness, but only in your pretending there are selfish deeds and selfless ones.
God has made you in his image, he has fashioned you with the tools and feelings and ideas to help others and to do good to all men. When you reject your natural inclination to do the right thing, and decide you know best, that you should help others when truly you need to help yourself, or that you should help yourself when you feel the need to help others, then you have placed yourself above God and you have become lost.
Throw out your divisions!
Throw out your petty ideals, that some actions might be nobler than others!
Know yourself as you are known, and God will build you into a paragon of virtue,
as effortlessly as a tree growing from rain and shine.