Being aware of the difference between “pampering” and “caring” is a gift that comes from being connected to the Divine.
Our Western culture conditions us to pamper. Most of us learned from an early age to please others at all costs, to always show a “happy” face, to coat over our difficulties, to delude ourselves that “being nice” is the path to success and spirituality if we want the favor of God.
Pampering means when we unnecessarily go out of our way to “rescue” them from life’s ups and downs. For instance, when we outrightly lend money to someone who is well able to work but doesn’t want to, because he/she is simply lazy. We pamper others when we sacrifice our own good, and well-being just to please them, to get in their good graces, hoping and believing that they will return the favor – pamper us.
We pamper our neighbors, friends, teachers, priests just to be well thought of by them, often at great cost to our own self-esteem and well-being. We pamper family members, children, prospective significant others to receive love from them. The list goes on.
Pampering others is basically pampering ourselves, blinding us to the dangerous delusion of thinking we are really on the path to wholeness. Such pampering is endemic across the Western culture. It is a serious addiction, more serious and detrimental to our health than drug or alcohol addiction.
To awaken to its dangers entails a radical readjustment of the psyche.
Caring on the other hand is a clear-eyed objective response to a genuine need. It is not just an emotional response. It arises out of a pure unalloyed love, a response to unvarnished truth. It is selfless and not preoccupied with the benefits that may accrue to the “carer” or giver. It comes from a pure heart that is habitually attuned to one’s wholeness and self-respect and to that of others.
Pampering is slavish. Caring maintains an independence of spirit while flexible in meeting the exigencies of daily life. It is devotion to the truth. Caring is true love.