Daily Zen

How To Help Another Person

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You are in charge of your own karma, your own life, your own spiritual path, and your own liberation, just as I am in charge of mine.

     — Lama Surya Das

The idea of helping another person can easily lose its essence. In fact, what most people consider to be “help” actually isn’t help at all.

“Helping” another might involve a detrimental self-sacrifice that ultimately helps no one. Or, help can be used as a form of control to gain something such as love or commitment from another person. Or, help might be given from a sense of obligation. The person helping doesn’t really want to do that, or their heart isn’t in it.

Unless another person feels safe enough to open their energy field to you and gives you their consent to join them on their personal journey in some way, there really isn’t much you can do to help them anyway. It’s vital to allow each person to experience their own experiences, so they can figure out how to make their own decisions which are unique to each life path. (I’m talking to you, parents.)

This is why empathy is imperative when helping another; otherwise, assistance or advice can feel distant and cold. Help may not be effective unless there’s a genuine personal connection with respect to individual responsibility.

Zen masters and teachers talk a lot about ‘losing the self.’ This is also imperative when helping others.

When I don’t ‘lose myself,’ I can give a person wrong or presumptuous advice such as, “Just do what’s healthy, right, and intelligent. What’s so hard about that??” Of course, life doesn’t always follow a formula or moral dogma. Our existence is too dynamic for that.

I learned that I need to respect the personal space and privacy of others unless I’m specifically asked for support or guidance. Then I know I have the person’s consent and they’re also open to receiving something from me.

But my objective isn’t to give them something from me. It’s to give them something from THEM.

When I do a reading for a querent, readings work best when I leave myself – as well as my assumptions and expectations – out of the process. Then I can connect directly to the person’s own soul or soul guides in order to convey the most compassionate, personalized, or accurate message to them. In that instance, I am temporarily joining this person in their energy space. When I ‘read’ another person’s energy, I can see and feel how life is experienced from THEIR perspective, which is always unique to them.

True advice and genuine help changes according to every person and to every circumstance. And, when it comes right down to it, it really isn’t advice or help at all. It’s a CONNECTION. Helping others occurs naturally as we find our own way and utilize our own personal skills.

Real help and effective advice benefits the giver as much as the receiver, and sometimes even more so. Assisting someone occurs so organically and in such a personally fulfilling way, we don’t even realize we’re helping anyone.

So, the best way to help someone is to not help them at all. A simple but genuine connection with others allows each person to organically contribute their personal expertise to the world.