You have a right to perform your prescribed duties, but you are not entitled to the fruits of your actions. Never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities, nor be attached to inaction. - Bhagavad Gita
This topic of selflessness is challenging to write about.
How do you describe something that inherently cannot be written or illustrated?
The most I can do here is simply invite you to the possibility that what I am about to say might have some truth to it. And all you have to do is just verify it in your present-day experience.
Selfless Action Is Actually Quite Selfish.
Think about it. Why would you want to act selflessly? What and to whom do the benefits of this attitude best serve?
For most, it's completely selfish because acting in this way brings them peace. A sense of relief that "Ah! I didn't act in my own self-interest for once. I helped this person."
But observe this closely.
There is something implied in the attitude above.
In an effort to be selfless, we've simply reinforced – selfishness.
Think of who is benefiting. Your ego.
After doing the "selfless" action, your mind suddenly does 3 flips in the air, congratulating yourself for the job well done and thinking of all the ways you can help people in the future. Thinking about all the good stuff that should happen to you as a result. Knowing that good things happen to people who do good, right?
A Selfless Act Has No Doer
What does that even mean?
In a general sense, you can interpret this as "action that can truly be deemed as "selfless" doesn't make a dent in the mind of the human."
An action is selfless when it doesn't make a dent in the mind.
leaving you free of its hold.
The implication is huge.
You can be in this world, but not of it.
It means that you can DO things without needing a PERSON, a doer to take credit.
The ego is like this:
And your true being is like this:
Your true being does the dance of life. Elegantly moving to the flow of the present moment. When the show comes to a close, guess who jumps on stage to take all the credit?
Your ego is like that clown. Trying to give yourself or someone else credit for the actions taken. However, this binds you.
Your Ego Is An Unstable Compound Thought.
The Ego, in my observation, exists only in thought. It itself is not a REAL entity. If it was, then where is it? Otherwise, it is simply a series of thoughts stitched together into a large compound thought that occupies space in your mind.
How do we know this to be true?
Remember the last time you experienced TRUE joy. Where were you? And I don't mean where your body was, WHERE WERE YOU? That person with "X title" and "Y attributes" simply ceased to exist. Because it never existed.
The ego cannot exist in the present moment, in true joy. You cannot project an "entity" unto an ever-fresh moment – a moment that is in universal FLUX.
What can happen is this. Your mind plays a neat trick.
In service of this large compound thought your mind lags just a bit – it remains slightly in the past. You may think you're in the present moment but you're actually not. And instead, your ego is projected into this slightly past state.
It's here that your overthinking, overplanning and overanalyzing happens.
Compound Thoughts Decay
Any compound in this universe will eventually decay back into its constituent parts. Until nothing is left.
Your Ego Thought is the same, it is in constant flux. One day it likes apples, the other it hates them. More things get added to it and others get removed. It's in the constant churn of change.
But in your experience, are you always changing? Are you always in flux? No.
You're the one who watches the flux. Subtle but massive difference.
So what can you do?
The solution is simple! Make your way back to the present moment. The ever-fresh and unique moment that is presented to you. Mourn the thought that is binding you and you'll be free!
But you're habitually a person, not an actual one...
The problem you'll obviously face is that you've fallen into the habit of being a person. You don't know anything else. And that's okay.
All that's needed is some good ol' elbow grease & a firm resolve to find out the truth.
Ask yourself if this "apparent" person that is currently being presented to you, is ACTUALLY you or simply appears to you. And just follow that line of questioning.
Do this enough and you will notice very clearly that this "person" is a thought or series of thoughts that is PRESENTED to you. The true you. This separation from our mess of thoughts is what we will gain from this.
I know it sounds WOO WOO but just LOOK LOOK.
The Relief of Being Selfless
So the point is this.
In your daily life, realize that all actions can be selfless. This still might mean doing thoughtful acts of service for the people closest to you. Stuff like making others' lives just 1% easier. Or even going to work.
You can completely change your attitude toward the events that happen in your life.
It can be from the angle of protecting a non-existent separate entity or from the angle of wholeness. It's up to you.