This week, Red Roomers are blogging about a time when they were helped. In my email, I cited two quotes, one by the Dalai Lama ("If you can, help others...if you cannot do that, at least cause them no harm.") and another by the Buddha ("The whole secret of existence is to have no fear. Never fear what will become of you, depend on no one. Only the moment you reject all help are you freed.") that seem on their face to contradict one another.
I should have known that I'd get some interesting perspectives on that from people who have actually studied Buddhism. First, Red Room author Ibi Kaslik wrote me:
"I think what that Buddhist quote refers to non-attachment rather than rugged individualism or not pitching in to help others out. All things are to be cherished equally, I think, but never one over the other. We 'lose' when we are overly attached to people or things that we lose or die. I don't think it's contradictory just maybe about non-attachment?"
Next, new Red Room member Patrick Jennings had this to say:
"I believe your Buddha quote needs to be placed in the context of another one: 'How can one person stuck in the mud be helped by another, also stuck in the mud.' That is, if we are both mired in the mud of life, then attempting to help one another at best gets us nowhere, and at worst only serves to embed us further into the mud. If you wish to extract yourself, then you must do so on your own. Often, even the best those who've already freed themselves can do is shout out their encouragement."
Important feedback, don't you think? I'm so grateful to Ibi and Patrick for writing, and not just because it helps me stumble towards enlightenment; that they took time shows how engaging this community can be and is. If you want to add to their observations, please feel to leave a comment below.
–Huntington W. Sharp, Senior Editor, Red Room
P.S. I'm looking forward to reading everyone's posts about help in the next couple of days. Don't forget to tag your posts helped blog so they appear in this list. Thanks!