Since all wish to be happy,
may all help one another to be happy.
We should reflect upon and make serious efforts to dissolve our attitude that views ourselves and others as being separate and distinct. We have seen that insofar as the wish to gain happiness and to avoid suffering is concerned, there is no difference at all. The same is also true of our natural right to be happy; just as we have the right to enjoy happiness and freedom from suffering, all other living beings have the same natural right. So wherein lies the difference? The difference lies in the number of sentient beings involved. When we speak of the welfare of ourselves, we are speaking of only one individual, whereas the welfare of others encompass the welfare of an infinite number of beings. From that point of view, we can understand that others’ welfare is much more important than our own.
If our own and others’ welfare were totally unrelated and independent of one another, we could make a case for neglecting others’ welfare. But that is not the case. I am always related to others and heavily dependent on them: while I am an ordinary person, while I am on the path, and also once I have achieved the resultant state [of enlightenment]. If we reflect along these lines, the importance of working for the benefit of others emerges naturally.
You should also examine whether, by remaining selfish and self-centered despite the validity of the above points, you can still achieve happiness and fulfill your desires. If that were the case, then pursuit of your selfish and self-centered habits would be a reasonable course of action. But it is not. The nature of our existence is such that we must depend on the cooperation and kindness of others for our survival. It is an observable fact that the more we take the welfare of others to heart and work for their benefit, the more benefit we attain for ourselves. You can see this fact for yourself. On the other hand, the more selfish and self-centered you remain, the more lonely and miserable you become. You can observe this fact for yourself… By contemplating these points, you will certainly be able to strengthen more and more your attitude of cherishing the well-being of others.
– The Dalai Lama (The World of Tibetan Buddhism) [Excerpt]
The Buddha is Still Teaching: Contemporary Buddhist Wisdom
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