J2PMonday: Who goes first?

When I explain my beliefs about healing yourself as the primary vehicle of healing the world, I regularly encounter naysayers who believe absolutely in offering service and see self-healing as selfish.  I’ve never quite understood why one has to exclude the other.

There’s an ancient schism in Buddhism between those who believe all must be enlightened before “you” become enlightened — in other words that you must help to bring everyone before you get there yourself– and those who believe in an individual path of enlightenment.  I say, maybe we need both.  Even more, maybe we need to find a way to wed the two.

I kind of like the series of paths to enlightenment in yogic thinking, in which there are various ways to reach enlightenment.  It’s open to each person to feel which one draws them and to follow the path that best suits.  The paths include practices for both self-healing and service.  I believe every spiritual path can lead to healing and/or enlightenment.

I used to do a lot of volunteer work and as I feel better I consider doing it again.  I also held various jobs in the “public interest” sector and I like doing work that feels good.  But in those positions, both volunteer and paid, I was often disturbed by the motivations, the negative feelings and the arrogant presumptions of “rightness” that permeated.

As I moved along a spiritual path, I began to feel that sometimes it doesn’t help to jump in based on my UNenlightened assumption about what’s best for someone else.  Or that I may do more harm than good if I show up from a place of anger.

I evaluate any agency or program from a viewpoint of whether they seem to be operating from love, listening to the wishes of those they’re helping and creating their plans from the heart instead of the head.

I don’t believe you have to be enlightened to help, but I do think it’s worth stopping and considering.  Taking a moment to look inward and listen to your heart.

I also think it’s perfectly possible to volunteer for a great place and at the same time keep on healing yourself.  I absolutely believe the more you heal yourself the more you heal the world.  I also believe you can absolutely both serve others in some way AND heal yourself.  Why does one have to be first or better or “the right way”?

See previous posts for more on healing self and world:


10 thoughts on “J2PMonday: Who goes first?

  1. I like the yogic thinking too. I believe we each have our own path towards healing and enlightenment. Maybe for some people sometimes that path includes being righteous about service. Any kind of limited thinking bothers me – I guess that’s where I get all righteous. Oh well, step by step each of us finds the path to the truth even if it looks like we’re going backwards.
    Alison xoxox

  2. Exactly Leigh. I have been involved in many healing’s and seen many times what I THOUGHT was a good direction for someone. But they decided another path…and it worked perfectly…FOR THEM.
    I can guide, but their healing is always what they feel is best for them, mistakes or not, for it IS their journey to find that love inside. What means something to me can be totally irrelevant to another, but they all lead to finding that love within.
    Whether a Buddhist, Christain or a thousand other religious orders, it always leads back inside…your journey, my journey and a million others are unique for who we are and the journey we are on.
    Being selfless is a journey, as is self healing, they both have lessons within. They may be poles apart, but unconditional love encompasses them all, for it does not judge a right way or wrong…it just is, and accepts everything.
    Well said, and a great post 🙂

  3. I totally agree with you. What will heal the world the most is that each of us heal ourselves and live in love for others, for if we love ourselves and others and help them as well, we are putting more love out into the universe.

  4. That is an interesting post about an important topic, Leigh. I also like the view that there are many possible paths. I think of them as many roads which lead to the same mountaintop. I have read many stories of different people with differents paths who all came to the same realization of no-self.
    The former catholic nun Bernadette Roberts came to the same realization of no-self as Zen Buddhist Adyashanti.
    I find it fascinating to see that there are many possible paths. And I find it even more fascinating to find the similarities. E.g. something like the Dark Night of the Soul seems to occur regardless of whether the seeker is Christian or Buddhist or from the lightworker camp.

    • Yes, I too, have noted that there are “enlightened” beings in every path — I think the key is following a path you believe will get you there and after you believe it doesn’t matter which one it is. And they all seem to have core beliefs about compassion, love, judgement, etc.

  5. Pingback: Go Team Tiny Peppers! | that cynking feeling

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