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"In Praise of Great Compassion" book cover
Compassion in Daily Life


In Praise of Great Compassion

Volume 5 of The Library of Wisdom and Compassion

by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and
Ven. Thubten Chodron

Wisdom Publications

Nowadays many people feel that they have to decide between benefiting themselves and benefiting others because doing both is either impossible or impractical. They see this as a black-and-white choice: because there is only a finite amount of various material resources and a limited amount of time, they must choose whom to benefit—self or others. Then, pushed by the self- centered attitude, they choose to benefit themselves.

Holding the view that benefiting self and benefiting others are mutually exclusive is restrictive. Seen from a broader perspective, intelligently benefiting others also aids us. When we help others, we immediately witness others experiencing the good results of our actions. Our actions cause the environment in which we live to be more pleasant.

Similarly, wisely benefiting ourselves aids others. Maintaining good health and keeping ourselves well-balanced physically and mentally creates a better atmosphere for all those we encounter. It also gives us more energy to share with others and enables us to practice the Dharma more consistently for the benefit of all. Thus in the Pāli canon, the Buddha praises those who work for both their own welfare and the welfare of others. The two are mutually beneficial.