Most giving stems from one of two causes: 1. a feeling of obligation, which could be expressed as feeling one "ought" or "should" do something - whatever the instigating factor may be: religious or moral sensitivity, social obligations, or personal or group expectations; and 2. a desire for personal gain, sometimes defined as "greed". In this latter category belong all the attitudes and actions which are spawned by feelings such as: "It feels good to give", "I benefit from helping others also", "By being empty I can receive", and all the other attitudes which in one way or another are related directly or indirectly to "altruism", to personal experiences (need, satisfaction, etc.) or to personal gain - even from a recognition of the functional aspect of giving.
This can be very subtle. For a person understands that by giving he indeed does gain and feels better. Thus it may become a highly egotistical act that one goes through, knowing that one will benefit from giving. It might even be said that at this point one of the main reasons for giving is to satisfy one's own need to feel good; and that by doing so through the medium of assisting another, one strengthens rather than weakens one's personal egoism - rather than dispels it - enabling it to grow into a more universal ego. There is no doubt, however, that by keeping this process in mind, one can benefit from it and can recognize when one is putting personal self before the larger. Thus, one then has the key to begin to move beyond the personal self through this activity - the process of giving.
There is, however, another approach to giving. This is what may be called "selfless action". This is giving without thought of individual gain and not out of any compulsion - either overt or covert. How does this "selfless giving" take place? First, it is almost always a result of "intuition" or "knowing". Now this intuition or knowing may be stimulated or activated by many means, both conscious and unconscious. But its main element is that there is no "personal" motivation which urges the actor to give. Rather, it is a sense that something is needed in a certain situation at a certain time and in a certain way, that one has the means to satisfy some or all of this need, and that it is appropriate to follow through on this awareness and put it into activity in the physical realm. When all these conditions are met, then one can begin to give in certainty that it is the "right action".
There is also another level of giving in which one does not need to consider the act of giving or not. This is when one has become so accustomed to "right action" that one simply does, and this doing is by its very nature, "right". This comes only after long practice of purifying the emotions and mental and spiritual levels or "areas" or "universes" through actual giving and noting what really is taking place through that activity. As this is noted and understood, it can be corrected until one no longer thinks of the giving, the gift or the giver. Rather, one knows the need and acts and it is right. One can then even go further and not even have to know the need. It is then that the possibility for really knowing the need and the functions of the gift can begin to be seen.
This is the beginning of true function without regard for self.
It is necessary for one to have at least this level of attainment
and preferably more than that - this being an understanding of the
possibilities of how the gift can be twisted and misused, and what
some of the other ramifications of receipt of the gift are - before
he or she should act in the capacity of guide or "teacher" and certainly before any "spiritual practices" are given to another.