Tantric Principle

Tantric Principle: Selfish Generosity

Selfish Generosity.   These two seemingly opposite concepts, in their most powerful form, go hand-in-hand, like a lock and it’s key.  Together they make our giving genuine.


Generosity without selfishness isn’t true generosity.

Now you might be saying, “Joanna has lost it. This is crazy.”  That’s possible, but give me a chance if you will.  The phrase “selfish-generosity” was actually coined by Paul Sterling, another Tantra Educator.  When I heard the term described, it deeply resonated with me, probably because for years I was not selfishly generous.  I gave in a way that you might call “sacrificing self-indulgence”… Yet I felt like I was giving so much all the time.  Sadly, this is what I see so many of us doing in the name of generosity.

Let’s use some examples.  We often give because it’s the “right” thing to do or we do something because we don’t really feel like we have a choice, even though we really don’t want to do whatever it is.  We give because it will make the other person happy, even though it’s not what we desire.  Have you heard yourself say, “Sure, I’ll do that for you,” while another part of you is saying internally, “Ugh. Why did I say yes?”

Worse yet, we can give so the other person won’t be unhappy or upset with us because we don’t want to hurt that person or because we don’t want to “deal” with the upset that might ensue.


If you’re willing, look back over the last two paragraphs…

Have you given in these ways?  How often do you do this? 

Every time we “give” in one of these ways out of obligation, expectation, or avoidance of upset, we aren’t being generous.  Most of the time, we’re really protecting ourselves from an experience we don’t want to have, like someone being mad at us, someone rejecting us, or dealing with conflict.  Those actions are actually self-indulgent, self-protecting.

True generosity always comes with an open heart, it’s never protective. It always feels expansive and opening.  Check in with yourself again, when you give in obligatory or avoiding ways as I describe above, are you feeling wide open, happy and sharing love?  Or, is the energy in your body more tight and constricting?  Does it require you to push and even acquiesce in order to give?

Giving without selfish generosity breeds resentment, hurt, and even separation.  Yes, separation. It creates separation when what we’re actually trying to do is keep the relationship together.


Sacrificing creates separation.  Selfish generosity creates connection. 

Ask yourself, which do I do more…sacrificing self indulgence or selfish generosity?

Selfish-generosity happens when you only give what your heart and soul are truly motivated to offer.  When we give in this way, we are filled, not emptied.  Our giving is receiving. We actually have more because we gave, not less.


Selfish-generosity happens when you only give what your heart and soul are truly motivated to offer.

You’ll know it’s true generosity because your heart will feel wide open.

Here’s to selfish-generosity!

In love, light and ecstasy,

Joanna Shakti

*At Ecstatic Intimacy, an all-inclusive website for singles and couples, we welcome all sexual orientation(s), gender(s) and relationship expressions. In this article we utilize the pronouns he/she/him/her.

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  1. Kate on October 7, 2021 at 7:25 am

    What do you call generosity that makes the giver feel good but makes the recipient feel bad. Example, a father-in-law who insists on doing something that makes his son-in-law feel like he can’t provide for his family and installs feelings of inadequacy and then states, “I know you don’t like it but that’s Just what I do.” He does it for his own sense of control and self-satisfaction. Is that not selfish-generosity?

    • Joanna Shakti on October 30, 2021 at 4:52 pm

      Great question. I wouldn’t actually call it generosity, when someone says no to what is being offered. I would probably agree with control, and underneath it the person may not have much actual satisfaction. When we aren’t listening to others desires, there is normally a reason… and it’s usually someone trying to feel some kind of self-worth or value. Which means, underneath they don’t feel valuable. Does that make sense? For the potential recipient, it’s important to set clear boundaries and say no when something isn’t wanted.

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