“All the happiness there is in the world arises from wishing others to be happy.
All the suffering there is in the world arises from wishing oneself to be happy.”
WHAT IS SELF-CHERISHING?
Self-cherishing is our mind thinking ‘I am important’ while neglecting others. It is defined as a mind that considers ourself to be supremely important and precious, and that develops from the appearance of a true existence of the self.
Since we regard our self or I as so very precious and important, we exaggerate our own good qualities and develop an inflated view of ourself. Almost anything can serve as a basis for this arrogant mind, such as our looks, possessions, knowledge, experience or status.
HOW TO LET GO OF SELF-CHERISHING
Whatever actions we are doing, whether working, talking, or relaxing, one part of our mind should always be watching to check what thoughts are arising. As soon as a delusion is about to arise we should try to stop it. If we catch a delusion in its early stages it is quite easy to stop, but if we allow it to develop fully it becomes difficult to control.
By keeping a close watch over our mind all the time, we can train ourself to recognize self-cherishing the moment it arises and then immediately recall its disadvantages. Normally when things go wrong we blame others, but the real cause of our problems is our self-cherishing mind. Once we have correctly identified self-cherishing we should regard it as our worst enemy and blame it for all our suffering.
THE FAULTS OF SELF-CHERISHING
Nothing causes us greater harm than our self-cherishing mind. It is impossible to find a single problem, misfortune, or painful experience that does not arise from self-cherishing.
Disregarding the happiness of others and selfishly pursuing our own interests we perform many non-virtuous actions, the effects of which are only suffering.
With self-cherishing we hold our opinions and interests very strongly and are not willing to see a situation from another point of view. As a consequence we easily get angry and wish verbally or physically to harm others.
Destroys our Mental Peace
Self-cherishing makes us feel depressed whenever our wishes are not fulfilled, we fail in our ambitions, or our life does not turn out the way we planned. All worries, anxiety, and sadness are based on self-cherishing.
Keeps us in Samsara
The fundamental reason for our suffering is that we are in samsara, and we are in samsara because we continually create the deluded, self-centred actions that perpetuate the cycle of uncontrolled rebirth.
“The mind that cherishes others is the supreme good heart. Keeping such a good heart will result only in happiness for ourself and all those around us.”
VEN GESHE KELSANG GYATSO RINPOCHE
LEARNING TO CHERISH OTHERS
Cherishing others is not so difficult – all we need to do is understand why we should cherish others and then make a firm decision to do so. There are two main reasons why we need to cherish all living beings. The first is that they have shown us immeasurable kindness, and the second is that cherishing them has enormous benefits.
All living beings deserve to be cherished because of the tremendous kindness they have shown us.
- Our body is the result of the kindness of others. We came into this world completely helpless and were immediately given a home, food, clothes, and everything else we needed.
- Our skills and abilities all come from the kindness of others. We had to be taught how to eat, how to walk, talk, read and write.
- All the facilities we take for granted, such as houses, cars, roads, shops, schools and hospitals were produced solely through the kindness of others.
- Our ability to earn money is dependent upon the kindness of others. It is others who employ us or buy our goods, and so, indirectly, it is they who provide us with money.
- Our spiritual development also depends upon the kindness of living beings. Without living beings we could never learn to practice giving, patience and compassion and develop virtuous qualities.
Conclusion: Contemplating this we should make a firm decision: “I must cherish all living beings because they are so kind to me.” Based on this determination we develop a feeling that all living beings are important and that their happiness matters.
THE BENEFITS OF CHERISHING OTHERS
Cherishing others is the best method to solve our own and others’ problems. If we cherish everyone we meet or think about, there will be no basis for developing jealousy, anger, or harmful thoughts, and our mind will be at peace all the time.
Protection from Jealousy
Jealousy is a state of mind that cannot bear another’s good fortune, but if we cherish someone how can his or her good fortune disturb our mind? When we cherish others we rejoice, take delight in the good fortune, virtue, and happiness of others.
Protection from Desirous Attachment
We often become strongly attached to another person whom we believe will help us to overcome our loneliness. However, if we have a loving mind towards everyone we do not feel lonely. Instead of clinging onto others to fulfill our desires we shall want to help them fulfill their needs and wishes.
Cherishing our neighbours and the people in our local community will naturally lead to harmony in the community and society at large. We may not be a well-known or powerful figure, but if we sincerely cherish everyone we meet we can make a profound contribution to our community.
Protection from Negative Karma
Driven by our selfish wishes we think nothing of destroying others’ peace of mind and causing them distress, thereby sowing the seeds for our own future suffering. If we sincerely cherish others we shall have no wish to hurt them and shall stop engaging in destructive and harmful actions.