Sunday, 28 March 2010

The "Helper" Syndrome

One of the themes of practice is the gradual movement from a self-centered life to a more life-centered one. But what about our efforts to become more life-centered—doing good deeds, serving others, dedicating our efforts to good causes? There’s nothing wrong with making these efforts, but they won’t necessarily lead us to a less self-oriented life. Why? Because we can do these things without really dealing with our “self.” Often our efforts, even for a good cause, are made in the service of our desires for comfort, security, and appreciation. Such efforts are still self-centered because we’re trying to make life conform to our picture of how it ought to be. It’s only by seeing through this self—the self that creates and sustains our repeating patterns—that we can move toward a more life-centered way of living.

- Ezra Bayda, from “The ‘Helper’ Syndrome,” Tricycle, Summer 2003 (unfortunately subscriber access only)

Received as Daily Dharma from on the 11th of November 2009


A tricky koan: when we see our motivation behind a good deed is actually self-centred, should we still act?

1 comment:

Barry said...

Reminds me of today's Ox Herding: My fantasy is that everyone else would reinvent themselves. Which can be why we do good things - to set an example for others to follow!