Helping Yourself Spiritually Before Helping Others
In some spiritual traditions it is held that being interested in spirituality and doing the spiritual work for the purpose of self-development is selfish, and should be replaced by the sole purpose of helping others to ascend. Such schools tend to put a lot of emphasis on having as the main focus to help others, while helping oneself is not spoken of, or is considered to be a goal less worthy because it involves selfishness. While it is true that helping others to ascend is an important thing, it doesn’t make much sense to take out the element of helping oneself first.
It is true that there are many reasons that motivate a person to embark on a spiritual path. I am sure that many initially would be interested because of some personal gains, perhaps because they heard that with meditation one attains inner powers, or because of a popular belief that by practicing some techniques it is possible to manifest things into one’s own life that are currently unavailable, such as more abundance, better relationships etc. However, in my view, many people who start out with this motivations soon become disillusioned when seeing that things do not work like they imagined it, or that it takes quite a lot of time and effort before inner powers can be developed.
On the other hand, there are many who start the spiritual work because they wish to change inwardly. They understand that they have a lot of things inside them that are harming both themselves and people around them, and they may also have a sense that they are lacking in something. Often time the latter sense is developed gradually as the spiritual work is carried out, and as higher emotions begin to appear. This category of seekers is on the path of deep inner transformation, and it is necessary for them to help themselves first before they will be able to help those around them. Otherwise, helping others would be done out of a type of moral duty, and not from the heart.
When these type of people would read in some spiritual texts something along the lines: “Ignore yourself, your desires and wishes for achievement, and give yourself completely to helping others”, they may be confused, or take it in a wrong way. It is true that eventually we need to let go of ourselves, but this does not mean to ignore the goal of self-realization. To self-realize means to achieve our higher purpose, which is to become one with our Being, and therefore to know who we truly are. Without the Being we are lost in the sea of confusion, holding on to our beliefs, trainings, dogmas, and schools. In contrary to this, when the Being comes to unite with us internally, permanently, we then have the guiding light in a deep way.
When motivation for doing the inner work comes from that deeper part of us, which is our Being, then working on oneself does not mean being selfish, because we work to reach unity with that which is the real us, which in its nature is selfless and loving. The spark that prompts us to work in this case comes from that deeper part of us and manifests as longing to be one with our Being. and even when someone starts out the spiritual path through curiosity of astral travel, or of Kundalini and access to its higher states, or through desiring psychic faculties, that person can still have their interests mature over time, as they learn more and reflect more on the teachings that they are studying, becoming more and more open for the guidance of their Being.
As we do the spiritual work, we get in touch with that spark, the consciousness, which in turn is connected to that larger part of us which is the Being. Having experience of that type of work on ourselves, we are enabled to best help others to also lift themselves up from their animal nature, drives and desires, and everything else that the spiritual work seeks to transform and transcend.
Therefore, it is important to help oneself first on the spiritual path, because it is pointless to try and help others if we ourselves are completely lost and in ignorance. That type of help would be intellectual at its best, or done out of following moral rules that came from spiritual training, but something very important would be missing, and that is the spiritual work – that which can kindle the light in our hearts so that we can help others in a way that is the most beneficial.
HDP, April 2020.