On helping others

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. 

About Tashi Nyima

I am a Dharma student, and aspire to be a companion on the path. I trust that these texts can offer a general approach and basic tools for practicing the Buddha's way to enlightenment. ||| Soy un estudiante del Dharma, y aspiro a ser un compañero en el sendero. Espero que estos textos ofrezcan a algunos un mapa general y herramientas básicas para la práctica del sendero a la iluminación que nos ofrece el Buda.
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5 Responses to On helping others

  1. Amy V. says:

    This is exactly what I needed to hear at exactly the right time. Thank you.

  2. Yue-han Su says:

    It is a question of balance. Helping others, when intention is pure and effort sincere, is a way out of hell. As with any difficult undertaking requiring commitment there is risk, however. One risk is that we may misjudge — ourselves, the situation, others — and end by worsening conditions. An awareness of the *un*-conditioned realm of the Buddhas and the Dharma is our safety net.

  3. Yuliya says:

    Hello Tashi!
    I have received this information in a perfect time, just when I was struggling to keep myself in balance while helping to a friend who seems to have “never ending problems” for the past few weeks. Especially meaningful for me was the last paragraph with sentence: “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”.
    As always, your words are full of wisdom and I am deeply grateful for ability to learn from you!

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