Selfless Action


By Matt Koehl (2006)

We espouse a Cause. It is a Cause far greater than our individual selves. It is one of Life. It is one of Right and Truth – of our fundamental being.

Few today recognize the awesome dimensions of that which we represent. Fewer still have come to act upon that recognition.

Many, disturbed by the baleful unfolding of events in an increasingly corrupt and chaotic world, grasp for panaceas and palliatives with which to alleviate the inner pain and anguish they feel. Some do take action to assuage the pain; but the ineffectiveness of the remedy or the enormity of the problem soon leads most to abandon the effort.

There is, of course, one correct, logical, rational solution to our contemporary dilemma. If everyone concerned were to embrace this solution and act upon it with dedication and consistency, the issue could certainly be mastered, albeit against great odds.

The unhappy fact is that most of those concerned lack even a modicum of staying-power. Too quickly do they grow weary and give up, without committing themselves unreservedly to the struggle, win or lose.

In a declining West today, most people – to greater or lesser degree – are infected by decadence and spiritual sickness. Instead of being active participants in their own destiny, they have become idlers and spectators. And so, after a set duration – depending in each case upon the moral stamina and steadfastness of the particular individual – the struggle is abandoned by those who should know better, with the excuse that the Cause is hopeless.

Hopeless, yes, perhaps for that one individual in his own subjective judgment. But not objectively hopeless for a Cause whose triumph is reserved exclusively for those worthy of it.

At the root of this lame attitude is the expectation of quick, easy, painless results. If a certain outcome is not realized within a set period of time within one’s own mortal lifetime, one gives up and the whole enterprise is abandoned. Forgotten completely are earlier protestations of concern about the condition of the world and the need for a better one.

Ironically, it is this very focus on fixed results, rather than on fulfillment of duty, which obscures the vision and blinds one to those possibilities which might otherwise open up as a by-product of correct thinking and acting, and thus lead to that very victory we all seek. Amidst all the anxiety about the existing state of affairs, this fixation on outcome quickly leads to frustration and despair when success is not easily and readily achieved.

But this attitude – this mental posture – is wrong and self-defeating. It is therefore prudent that we put all of that aside, detach ourselves, and take a fresh look at reality.

Ancient Wisdom

The ancient Aryan warriors of India called it nishkâma karma – action without attachment, action without personal desire. It is selfless endeavor, efficient action without fear or favor, and may be defined as the performance of one’s duty without desire for the fruits of one’s actions.

In its distinctive contribution to moral insight, that great holy book of spiritual wisdom, the Bhagavad-Gîtâ puts it this way: “Set thy heart upon they work, not upon the fruits thereof. Work not for a reward; but never cease to do they work.” (II:47)

In a word, the Gîtâ commends the ideal of selfless action, of duty done for its own sake alone, not out of desire for, or attachment to, its consequences.

Here there is no regard for personal reward or self-aggrandizement of any kind. One might say that it is simply a matter of doing the right thing. Nothing more, nothing less.

Put another way, selfless action is disciplined action directed toward a goal greater than one’s own personal whims and interests. Understood correctly, it is acting – not for the results, not out of desire or for the pleasure of the moment, nor from attachment to anything or to the outcome of a particular activity – but solely in concert with that Will which permeates this universe, pursuing its higher purpose.

Personal Detachment

There are two components to the concept of selfless action: selflessness, or detachment, and action. While, on the one hand, it calls for non-desire and selflessness, it also call for action – for doing.

The first component, detachment, is simply the removal of the mind from all extraneous distraction and the devoted, disciplined, single-minded concentration of the will toward a higher spiritual and moral purpose.

Selfless action insists on the exclusion of all personal inclination and desire – all consideration of pleasure or pain, success or failure – from the moral equation. The sole focus of its concern are the objective values of loyalty and honor in the service of a higher cause. Indeed, genuine moral life consists in giving up egoistic and acquisitive instincts and embracing such values.

The converse of selfishness, of course, is selfishness, or personal attachment. Because of its attachment, action so undertaken tends to be flighty and fickle. And because it cannot be sustained, it cannot offer the prospect of victory in a protracted struggle.

When the mind is attached to objects of the senses and to that which lies without, mental focus and rational stability are impaired, as is concentration of the will. As a result, such attachment leads to unreliability and inconstancy.

As the Gîtâ teaches: “When one dwells on objects of the senses, attachment to them grows; from attachment, desire is born; from desire comes anger; out of anger, confusion arises; through confusion, memory lapses; from lapse of memory, understanding is lost; from the loss of understanding, one is destroyed.” (Ibid., II:62-63)

But when the mind is withdrawn from sense-objects and given moral direction, this fleeting flux of desires vanishes and moral fixity is established. Acquiring such disciplined mental discrimination is an essential prerequisite for the development of an attitude which alone will enable one to practice selfless action.

It is through disciplined discrimination that the individual comes to realize his true nature as well as his true purpose. Without personal attachment but with indifference to material distraction, the person of understanding transcends the dualism of hope and fear, gain and loss, joy and sorrow, hate and personal desire.

If one’s senses are withdrawn from their objects, wisdom is firmly set. Material desire is replaced by the desire of the soul and the realization of this inner self – one’s true being – as part of a greater Whole, which is the proper goal of all one’s striving.

Those who are endowed with the knowledge of selfless action – renouncing all motives of self-interest – perform their actions without attachment to their consequences. They are not carried away by success or depressed by failure, but enjoy mental equanimity. Neither the usefulness of an act nor its futility can affect their will.

Thus, they have achieved sovereign control of the mind and through it that inner freedom, which provides for unity of thought, word and deed – which is the hallmark of Aryan moral consciousness.

No longer are they slaves to the senses but have attained that sovereignty, which we may describe as consciousness of the soul. The mind – having acquired an attitude of concentration and equipoise – is thus balanced, and the will is now free to establish its sovereignty and moral authority.

And so, they are immune to the blandishments and temptations of the enemy.

Without such moral autonomy and self-control, one is susceptible to the wiles and snares of the adversary. When we are subservient to the senses and material things, we create vulnerabilities, which the enemy can exploit to corrupt and destroy for his purposes. In this way alone does he gain power over us.

Beyond this, when a man stakes a claim to the fruits of his actions, he thereby supplants his original purpose. And so, without detachment, it is as though he had not acted in the first place.

Action as Duty

The other component of selfless action is action itself, which derives from the imperative of duty. This imperative does not derive from selfish considerations, but is disinterested and categorical. It eliminates the influence of personal inclination and implies respect for practical reason, which excludes all motives of the senses, just as it rejects the impetuous claims of egoism.

Nishkâma karma is the dynamic power of duty exalted by inner detachment. It is freedom in action, not freedom from action. As such, it is an expression of deepest religiosity. But whereas the inducements of punishment and reward are indispensable in the Judeo-Christian moral scheme, Aryan spirituality rejects such selfish considerations as something alien to the instincts of our race.

Everyone has a station in life – actually, a core identity – set by birth and blood, and one is called to perform the duties of that station in a disinterested spirit of detachment.

The advantage that flows from the performance of selfless action may be summarized quite briefly. No longer is one subject to the senses or to that which lies without. Rather, the imperative of morality as disinterested duty now reveals its own intrinsic values of dignity, purity and sublimity.

It must be emphasized that selfless action does not suggest unconcern for a given goal or purpose. Indeed, implicit in the very concept is the idea of a cause, or purpose, beyond the interests of the individual, which provides the necessary field for action.

And there can be no higher cause than that embodying the ultimate Will of this universe, which was disclosed anew in modern time by a most extraordinary figure. His was the highest moral mission; and by his very appearance, he has summoned us to action – to duty.

Savitri Devi referred to the doctrine/practice of selfless action as karma yoga, which she defined in this way:

“Karma yoga is one of the teachings of the Bhagavad-Gîtâ Not only of the Gîtâ; you get it in National Socialism. I’ll tell you what karma yoga is. Karma yoga is: Act with your body for the interest of the universe, according to the scheme of the universe, the divine scheme, and without passion, without any personal attachment or disgust or enthusiasm or anything. Just do it because it’s your duty. Act in the name of duty alone. That’s karma yoga.” (And Time Rolls On, Black Sun, Atlanta, 2005, p.124)

Quoting a Brahmin sage, Savitri Devi went on to remark:

“ … Work for your cause, work for whatever you love. But work in detachment. Try not to feel upset if you are unsuccessful. Try not to feel pride if you are successful. If people blame you or insult you, be indifferent. If they praise you, don’t feel pleased. Feel indifferent. ‘All right, they praised me.’ Don’t feel exalted if people are praising you.” (Ibid., 125-126)

Pflichterfüllung and Heroism

The concept of duty and its inner law lies at the hear of selfless action. It provides the moral premise for all higher human existence. The Führer has explained its significance:

“Our own German language possesses a word which magnificently designates this kind of activity: Pflichterfüllung (fulfillment of duty), which means not to be self-satisfied but to serve the greater whole. The basic attitude from which such activity arises we call – to distinguish it from egoism and selfishness – idealism. By this we understand simply the individual’s capacity to make sacrifices for the whole, for his fellow men.” (Mein Kampf, I:11)

(In speaking of idealism, the reference here to “selfishness” is an allusion to the self as synonymous with ego, as the term is commonly understood in Western parlance. It is not a reference to the inner soul itself, which is distinct from the ego.)

Racial idealism is the practical expression of selfless action. It establishes the moral framework for Aryan conduct. The duty which it obligates is, at the same time, part of a larger concept of honor. And heroism is its highest manifestation.

In his book, the Führer speaks of heroism in terms of karma yoga: “… He who first demands of Fate a guarantee of success thereby renounces all idea of an heroic deed.” (Ibid., II:2)

Appealing to the Aryan sense of honor and heroism, the Führer instructs us further with these words: “We must not ask whether it is possible, but whether it is necessary. If it is impossible, then we shall try our best and perish in the attempt.”

In these two statements is contained the quintessence of selfless action. Not for the fruits – not for the results or personal gain or the promise of success – but out of moral obligation to the inner law commanding performance of one’s duty.

In the Heroic Age of pre-Christian Europe this idea was well understood. Men did not demand a guarantee of success before they acted to do what had to be done. Rather, they proceeded, bravely and unflinching, from an inborn sense of honor in the face of Fate, that inexorable causal force and arbiter of all things. The underlying perception was that they were acting within the context of a greater whole and for the greater good of kindred and kind.

This idea was also expressed in the Anglo-Saxon epic poem, “The Battle of Maldon”: “Soul shall be more stalwart, heart the higher, courage the greater, the more our might diminisheth.” Absent here is any thought of retreat or escape; there is only the iron resolve to face death with courage, dignity, and head held high.

Not for the fruits, but for the doing and duty itself.

Selfless Action versus Ascetism

The concept of selfless action is not to be confused with ascetism, which involves the renunciation and cessation of all activity.

According to the ascetic outlook, activity entails endless work and worry and, if one’s aspirations are not crowned with fulfillment, discontent and depression are inevitable. And so, in consequence, the ascetic withdraws from the fuss and fury of life to seek inner peace through disengagement and contemplation.

By contrast, the man of action does not withdraw and turn inward, but cheerfully embraces struggle and toil as the ideal in life. For him, selflessness consists of the renunciation of personal desire, not of action itself.

Restraint and discipline of the senses must, accordingly, not be seen as selfish ends in themselves, enabling one to escape from the rigors of life. Rather – along with action itself – they are to be considered a means by which one is able to discharge one’s duty in the service of a higher cause.

Thus, selfless action does not suppress the senses, but merely sublimates them – spiritualizes them – for a higher purpose.


The concept of nishkâma karma is best described, of course, in the celebrated Bhagavad-Gîtâ, where in the lead-up to the battle of Kurukshetra, the hero Arjuna is instructed by the divine avatar as to his moral responsibilities.

The teachings set forth in the Gîtâ were intuitively understood by all Aryan peoples in ancient time, including the much-maligned Philistines – descendants of those Sea Peoples who settled in coastal Palestine in the 13th century BC. Facing daunting odds against overwhelming Israelite might, their battle-cry became: “Now be strong, and be men, that ye be not slaves of the Hebrews. Be men, and fight”! (1 Sam. 4:9)

As it turned out, not only did these Bronze Age vikings fight, but they triumphed, slaying 30,000 of the enemy and capturing its most sacred totem, the ark housing the Torah!

A similar attitude inspired Leonidas and his 300 Spartans at the Thermopylae pass, when they were besieged by the vast host of Xerxes. When informed that Persian arrows were so numerous and thick that they were darkening the sky, one of the Spartans replied laconically: “Good, then we shall fight in the shade.” They stood their ground and fell to the last man – thereby buying precious time and saving not only all of Hellas, but the entire European world.

Graphically, the concept of selfless action is nowhere better illustrated than in Albrecht Dürer’s famous woodcut, “Ritter, Tod und Teufel,” in which the Knight proceeds along his appointed path, unperturbed and undeterred, despite the menacing displays of Death and Devil, and all their minions.

During the Seven Years’ War, the spirit of selfless devotion to duty was exemplified by Frederick the Great, as he faced down virtually every European power to create a state which became the nucleus for a future Reich. Similar Aryan virtu prompted Robert E. Lee to resign his Union commission and leave his beloved Arlington home to lead the armies of the South in an ill-fated struggle for the sovereignty and freedom of his native land.

And again, the same Aryan code was upheld at the Alamo, when a handful of frontier riflemen – without consideration for their personal fate – stepped across a line in the sand, to cast their lot for honor against Santa Anna’s besieging hordes.

In our own modern time, the Aryan spirit of honor and loyalty unto death was reaffirmed by the heroes of the Waffen-SS and the Hitlerjugend, as well as by their immortal Leader, as they fought to the very last against hopeless odds amidst the flaming ruins and rubble of an embattled Reich capital – in the full knowledge that the battle was already lost.

And as an epilogue to that precious blood sacrifice, we have the further example of the man who stood closer to the Führer than anyone else and who was to be martyred for his faithfulness. Known as the “conscience of the Movement,” Rudolf Hess was a lifelong practitioner of karma yoga. In life, he acted with single-minded loyalty and devotion; in death, he gave new meaning and eloquence to those words, spoken at the great rally in 1934, to stand by the Führer and his Cause – “in good days and bad.”

In Summary

For the individual Aryan warrior there can be no promise of success. That, by definition, would rob him of the opportunity for the heroic deed. Without selfless action and the moral freedom it bestows, however, no Aryan victory can be achieved.

What we fight for is the holiest of causes. It is this alone, and the moral obligation which it compels, that should inspire our thoughts and actions. Let us, therefore, heed these words from Chapter 2, Verse 31, of the ancient Gîtâ: “Look to your own duty; do not tremble before it; nothing is better for a warrior than a battle of sacred duty.”

Today our race faces the supreme challenge of the ages, beside which our own mortal existence and all selfish pursuits are of no consequence.

The issue is a simple one: TO-BE-OR-NOT-TO-BE. Life or death for our kind? Are we worthy of life on this Earth, or do we deserve extinction and oblivion?

The subjective means given to us for deciding the issue and determining our worthiness is struggle. Struggle does not necessarily guarantee success; but without it, no victory is possible. And the summons to struggle is called – duty.

The struggle before us is one of protraction extending over decades and generations. It cannot be sustained by ephemeral passions or the whims of the moment, but only by focused and unrelenting WILL which is unaffected by the vagaries of success and setback.

Therefore, let us cultivate the yoga of struggle. Through the practice of selfless action, we achieve what Savitri Devi spoke of fondly as efficiency. It is this efficiency of all those working in concert for the common cause which is the prerequisite for victory.

It shall be. The Will shall triumph. It shall triumph, because it is eternal and all-powerful. The only question is whether we ourselves – as individuals – choose to become instruments of this Will, and so become part of a higher destiny.

A New Order awaits. Therefore, obey the inner law. Do your duty. Let your life become one with the Cause of the greater whole. That, and that alone.

Amor fati.