Helping Others – The Best Way To Help Yourself

Last Sunday, I emphasized motivation. Motivation is the one that makes a huge difference. It is also an easy way to do things right. Buddha was asked by one of the kings of his time in India, “How can I remain King and yet be a great spiritual person, and also very helpful to everybody and also to myself – and not only this life time, but also for future lives?”

Buddha gave a number of answers to that king. And the first is motivation. That makes a huge difference. Although the actual work may be whatever it is, but it makes a difference if you want to be helpful, to yourself and to others, and at least not do harm to anybody, and at least not harming yourself. You may think these priorities are a little bit lopsided. And that’s true. You yourself are the most important. Somehow we don’t talk about it. We talk about love and compassion, and we almost focus outward with that. It’s as though you are looking out for people. Yes, you are looking out to help people, but that’s not only for those you are looking out for, but it’s also for helping yourself. It is for helping yourself and others. There is a little twist in there. But that twist really helps.

Last November, we were attending the huge lamrim teaching in South India where His Holiness the Dalai Lama said that bodhisattvas are the most intelligent selfish people. In a way, it is true. They are the most intelligent, because they understand that in order to help yourself, you help others, and by doing so, the result is that you get helped. It looks like it is total dedication to all living beings, but by doing that, automatically you are purifying your negativities and are accumulating positive virtues. So, honestly, helping others is the best way to helping yourself.

But you have to do it with no feeling of selfishness, but totally dedicated to helping others, yet it totally works out to your own advantage – absolutely. That’s the twist I was talking about. The actual work makes a difference with that twist. The motivation will make a difference. So first and foremost, the way to improve ourselves, to make ourselves better is through the motivation. Watch out for that.

In the morning, when you wake up, watch your motivation. I am not going to say to watch out for your mind, because then it looks like driven mental activities. No. Thoughts are going to come up anyway, when you wake up. Maybe you think, “Where am I?” It depends on how much activity you had last night! If you went to a hot party, in the morning you may begin to wonder whether you are alive or not. But when you realize you are alive, there is an advantage. Appreciate and be happy you are alive.

–Gelek Rimpoche

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