Dalai Lama on Interest of Others over Self Interest

And, his actions underscore his teachings. His Holiness says, “Simply from the numerical point of view, if we want to be fair, we have to accept that the interest of others is more important than our own. Even in the mundane world, the issues which affect the lives of many people are generally granted greater significance than those that affect fewer people or a single individual. So, one has to accept, the well-being of others is more important than one’s own. To be completely rational, one could say sacrificing the interest of many for the sake of one person is an unwise act, whereas sacrificing the interest of one for the benefit of an infinite number of others is more rational.”

I’m sure Grandmother would have agreed as he speaks, “You might think all of this sounds fine, but at the end of the day you are ‘you’ and others are ‘other.’ If self and others are totally independent of each other, then perhaps there is a case for ignoring the well-being of others and pursuing one’s own self-interest. However, self and others are not really independent.”

In Grandmother’s garden, I learned that a vine intertwined with other plants cannot be separated from them without one or the other being broken.

The living Buddha says, “From the Buddhist point of view, even when you are unenlightened, your life is so intertwined with those of others that you cannot really carve yourself out as a single isolated individual.” Spiritual master to millions, His Holiness adds, “When you follow a spiritual path, many realisations depend on your interaction with others. Even when you have attained the highest state, of enlightenment, your enlightened activities are for the benefit of others. Enlightened activity comes about spontaneously by virtue of the fact that other beings exist, so others are indispensable even at that stage. Your life and the lives of others are so interconnected that the idea of a self that is totally distinct and independent of others really does not make any sense.”

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