Some time ago, somebody asked if we should take care of ourselves first, or if we should care for others first. Often we hear Buddhist quotes like “first get enlightened, then help all other beings”. Should we really care about ourselves first and then about others? What do we mean when we say we care?
When we spend time with each other and ourselves when we open our hearts towards things and people which are important to us, what happens in this body-mind? It seems like the energy fills everything without a beginning or an end.
No beginning, no end — where can we start?
Someone may say let’s start with ourselves when we are clear, we can care about others. Can we start where we are right now? Reading these words. Maybe black letters on a white background — if you are reading it on a screen without the dark mode. Maybe someone is reading it to you right now. Please listen to the sound of the voice without adding anything extra to it. Maybe we are with a person right now, who needs something to drink — then stop reading and give that person a drink. Is that caring about ourselves or about others?
Let us start with this very moment. What appears here? Can we listen to it and be completely honest with ourselves? If we don’t start being honest with ourselves right now, when will we? What relationship do we experience right now? Without imposing any kind of practice on others, without protection, without skin.
Then “what” remains?
Picture: This stone seated Bhaisajyaguru Buddha holds a medicine casket in his left hand. It was found in Mt. Namsan, Gyeongju, and moved to Seoul in 1915. It is presumed to have been made sometime between the late 8th and early 9th centuries, judging by the expression of the details of the knees and the pedestal. Photo: National Museum of Korea, Public Domain.