Can you be selfish and generous at the same time?

desire for the self alone is the only evil there isI am reading Richard Dawkins' The Selfish Gene. The genes that use humans as vehicles, and are only interested in procreation, and not in the life experience of the vehicle.

But, as I have said before, there are 160 intangible capacities, mostly dormant, in the human DNA. The ones that we are going to look at in this article are the capacities (genes) of generosity (altruism) and trust.

Trust and generosity seem to be at odds with the selfishness of the genes... but they don't have to be.

The crucial decider... is that a word?, is whether the gene of envy is turned on, or not.

Envy is at odds with trust and generosity, because envy means: desire for the self alone... i.e. wanting the other to lose more than wanting to win. Considering the other losing as a win for you. Considering the other's misfortune, suffering, pain, as a win for you.

According to Kabbalah, that is the only evil there is. I see it clearly.



If that gene, the gene for envy is turned on, then generosity and trust can't be turned on. 1

Genes are surprisingly responsive to mindset and attitudes. Why? I have no idea. But I have observed that the more a person is holding grudge or blame at a parent, and that is an attitude!, the less ability they have to even see that trust and generosity is missing.

They are the archetype of "cutting your nose in spite of your face".

Generosity is not the opposite of selfishness.

They go very well together. You can, often, win more is you cooperate with another...

I am hesitant to bring up the mathematical model of "prisoner's dilemma" that illustrates and proves it famously. I won't. I don't think I can give it justice in a short article, Dawkins spends tens of dense pages on it... I don't know the exact number because I read the book on my Kindle.

One of the important things I learned, reading the book, is that the current state of affairs is that the selfish, envious, evil gene is ruling humanity... it is an evolutionary stable strategy: everyone is striving to win at another's expense.

But Dawkins asks the question that is the most important, to me, in the whole book: could this evolutionary stable strategy (ess) be EVER replaced by another ESS, where generosity (altruism by Dawkins) is turned on in every member of humanity, or at least the dominant part.

He creates a model in which a remote, isolated group of people (not on an island) has the generous altruistic gene turned on. The population thrives in the mutual cooperation and support. They can now expand their territory and eventually get in touch and maybe even intermarry the "evil" population.

the-two-sides-of-selfishnessMutual cooperation is an overall more successful strategy from the selfish gene's perspective, and eventually the balance will flip over, and all of humanity (except maybe some isolated groups) will become cooperative.

Isolated groups that are not on an island don't really exist any longer... even though not so long ago there was at least one group that I know of.

I have been looking at the Bushman in the Kalahari (The Gods Must Be Crazy) but you can see that the moment there is only one coke bottle, the lack of generosity and sharing becomes apparent.

The actual group that existed until World War Two, was the Jews, the Ashkenazi Jews. Why not all the Jews? I don't know. But my experience in Israel was that Jews that came from Arab countries, reveled in others' losses more than they wanted their own success.

Racism? No. The selfish gene, and the level of isolation, the starting point really matters.

Given that the Jews were decimated in Europe, and then assimilated (my two brothers now have non-Jew offspring. The chance that they have generosity turned on is only 50% with their children, and 25% with their grandchildren.)

So, what will happen to humanity? The evil gene (envy, desire for the self alone) is winning, dominating, destroying others and the planet in the process.

And even if I succeeded in guiding a group of people to keep the capacity on after I turn it on for them, my students are from all over the world, from as far as Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, all of Europe, but not even two people from the same European country... and of course America.

You see, if you have the gene turned on, chances that you can see when you'll be exploited, cheated, turned into a sucker are quite slim... and the fear of that will turn of the gene, and turn of the behavior.

I am glad I am old. I am glad I don't have to see where this is heading, that I don't need to be part of it.

By the way: 70 years ago, the evolutionary stable strategy among Jews was 60% generous, 40% user... Today the assimilated Jews have the gene of altruism turned on only 20%.

Because, on the long term, cooperation pays more (more happiness, more success, more material wins) even people with the "evil" gene often cooperate... if they can see that cooperating pays more.

Corporations are evil because no one is looking... and the cooperative gene is rolled over, bulldozed over.

I know you are expecting better news.

But the real question for you is this: can a person with the cooperative gene survive, thrive, be successful in the world of evil?

But even a better question would be: can you pull back your eyes from the evil winners, the internet is full of their praise, and put your eyes on what you are doing, what you are up to, who you want to be... and find likeminded people.

Even in an ess of evil, only 93% of people live that way, subscribe to it.

Seven percent of humanity, 2% in the USA, 0% in Hungary! or the Communist countries, 30% in Israel... 10% in Brazil, are able and willing to win more through cooperation.


  1. My Heaven on Earth energy remedy, specifically the Yew energy moderates the envy... but doesn't turn the capacity off. Students of mine that take the remedy are much more willing to consider cooperation.

Author: Sophie Benshitta Maven

award winning architect, magazine publisher, transformational and spiritual coach and teacher, self declared Avatar

2 thoughts on “Can you be selfish and generous at the same time?”

  1. Is “faith in something bigger” necessary for cooperation to be turned on? In other words, a willing sacrifice of some part of the self for the greater whole, bolstered by religious or political belief (and the attached promises).

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