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To help the other is to help oneself || Delhi University (2022)
Author Acharya Prashant
Acharya Prashant
5 min
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Questioner (Q): Sir, if we do something to make someone else happy by deceiving our own self, is it worth it?

Acharya Prashant (AP): No, you cannot make someone else happy by deceiving your own self. That kind of a thing cannot exist; that kind of a thing exists only in ignorant stories or novels or movies, where you say that, “I want to just suppress my own pleasure or happiness to make the other happy.”

The characteristic of the real thing is that it is not exclusive in nature. If helping someone makes you feel sad within, then that help is of no use. If the help is really authentic, you will find that it fills up your heart, it raises you from within; there is a certain joy. Even if that involves losing time, or making effort, or losing money, or compromising on something—all those things will be there—but still, there will be an internal fulfillment.

So, both parties will gain: one party will gain as the receiver of the help, and the other party, the helping party, will gain through inner fulfillment. So, it is not going to happen that in the process of help it becomes a zero-sum game where one party is smiling and the other one is sitting with a shattered heart and saying, “Oh, in a bid to help other, I lost so much!” No, it is not possible.

You see, there was the famous śāntipāṭha (peace invocation) of the Upanishad that we had at the beginning of this session, and what did the śāntipāṭha say?

Pūrṇasya pūrṇamādāya pūrṇāmevāvaśiṣyate.

Even when you take away the full from the full, fullness still remains.

That is the characteristic of the real thing: give away everything and you will still be left with everything. In fact, I will go a step further: give away everything, and you are left with more than what you had. It is a strange arithmetic. Even when the infinite or the full manifests itself from its unmanifested state, what you have is nothing but fullness. *Pūrṇāmevāvaśiṣyate*—only the full is left as a remainder.

So, this is a very special kind of giving. You give, and you find that you have not lost anything. At one time I had said, gift from empty pocket, give from empty pockets. So, on one hand, it is true that you give and you are left with what you had; on the other hand, even a bigger miracle is possible, and the bigger miracle is: you had nothing but you decided to give, and when you decided to give, it is then that you found how much you really had. Had you decided not to give, you would have never discovered how much you had.

It is very beautiful and precious sūtra for life. You will never discover how capable you are, you will never discover how rich you are and how powerful you are unless you devote yourself to something extremely important. Had you not devoted yourself, had you not given yourself to that cause, you would have kept thinking you are little, small, feeble, powerless, etc.

The act of helping, the act of giving, the act of sacrifice, devotion, surrender, whichever way you look at it, that is what awakens your latent power, your immeasurable immensity. These are not merely heavy words; they are your reality. You keep holding back, and you will find all you have is a little pettiness that you are holding back and preserving and trying to secure. Start giving. Start giving, and you will find that there is just so much that you can do.

Q: So, basically, when we are helping others, we are helping ourselves first.

AP: Obviously. Wonderful. But also remember that helping others should involve bringing them to their potential. Be careful when you are helping others; be conscious of the nature of help. Because often, if you help in an ignorant way, your help can be counterproductive. It often is. You can spoil, or you can render a wrong kind of advice, or you can make the other person dependent on you.

So, remember the right kind of help. The right kind of help is that which awakens others’ potential. One characteristic of right help is that it reduces the need of the helped to remain dependent on help. The one you are helping should very soon become free of the need to be helped. That is the characteristic of the right kind of help. It works both ways: it will help that person or that cause, and it will also help you, the helper.

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