Many of us have the tendency to overextend ourselves when attempting to help others, and then suffer the inevitable consequences of expending our life force in a way that compromises physical, emotional, and mental integrity.
However, we need to attain peace and clarity for ourselves as a pre-condition for manifesting the capacity to help others. We cannot give what we do not have. We cannot help when we ourselves feel helpless. But we are not helpless. We have taken Refuge in the Three Jewels, and with Refuge we have undertaken to practice what the Buddha teaches, the Dharma, in the association of the Noble Assembly.
We are not alone, and we are not powerless. Whenever we feel victimized by others, or by external circumstances, we need to apply the antidote of right view. We are not as we appear to ourselves, limited and frightened, separated selves. We are one with the Primordial Buddha. We are not weak and impotent. We possess the infinite qualities and activities of the Bodhisattvas. We are not pitifully finite. We are blissful and permanent.
Whatever Dharma realization we may have, we need to maintain and augment. We are accumulating stores of wisdom and merit, but we cannot yet express them fully at once, because at this stage they are easily exhausted.
We can be there for others, but we must guard against allowing their afflicted emotions and wrong views to inhabit our consciousness, precisely because we desire to help them. Dwelling on thoughts of fear, loss, and chaos when others are suffering is not helpful to them, to us, or anyone.
Compassion is not expressed by “feeling the pain of others,” but rather by acting wisely to reduce their suffering. We cannot do so by adding our own suffering.