As i learn more about the path and as a result about myself, i cannot wonder if it selfish or self-preserving.

I have a greater appreciation that all is connected and inter-related however it remains to be my relationship. This isn't from the perspective of you and i (duality), but from an understanding of me with the rest of the universe. Perhaps i am overlooking something that is key to further understanding and would appreciate what this may be.

  1. For example, is the realization and actualization intended for myself only?
  2. If i help others and practice compassion, is it not intended to
    support my karmic cycle?

In turn, are these not selfish?

  • Are you looking for answers from the Pali canon? And/or from Mahayana literature? And/or from users' personal experiences?
    – ChrisW
    Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 9:51
  • 1
    @ChrisW - Given the options, i would say all of them since it's the collective that provides the most value and context.
    – Motivated
    Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 10:02

3 Answers 3


Chavalata Sutta: The Firebrand, see also AN 5.20; AN 4.96; AN 4.99 and most efficient of what Ms. Frying Pan had to say about this issues: The Bamboo Acrobat

  • +1 for the Chavalata Sutta -- IMO that's the most obvious reference from the Pali canon. They're all good references though.
    – ChrisW
    Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 10:44
  • ...and yet so often misunderstood since it does not change the practice and the focus at all. It just a 4WD vehicle, dive and not an excuse to do otherwise.
    – user11235
    Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 10:50

If you are a drug addict yourself, advising other drug addicts to quit won't be much effective. You must first show by example how to quit. Then others will be inspired by you to do the same. Similarly, first you should follow the path and show how it is done before preaching to others. It's not selfish. It's the most effective way of helping others for spiritual development.

Doing good and practicing worldly compassion is good Karma for you. That is the path to heavens. If you do only that, you will just inspire others to follow the path to heavens. Not to enlightenment.

In fact, not practicing the path is the selfish thing to do. Because the more you keep away from the path, the stronger your greed, ego and clinging to the view of self would be.


When traveling the path you should abandon the world or look internally. The implication with this is you cannot concern yourself with what is around you and to some extent other beings. Hence this can be viewed as an selfish path since you always look inward than outward.

  • Thanks. If you are always looking inwards how can you be true about your intentions seeing that they are already selfish? Isn't the intention that the outcome be the same for all? If i continue looking at myself in the mirror (thinking Smigel here), would i not be limiting my view of all that i am connected to?
    – Motivated
    Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 8:11
  • No you are not inwardly selfish but being not involved with the world makes you outwardly or apparently selfish. Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 8:54
  • I may be misunderstanding what you are saying so apologies however the way i read your comment is that as long as i'm inwardly selfless, that's all that matters. So for example, if i protect myself from danger but not attempt to save another being given i may have the opportunity, it's fine?
    – Motivated
    Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 10:10
  • Yes. Something along these lines. The question is are you in a position to save someone else when you are drowning yourself. Trying would be both of you drown. You can try to save your self 1st and then try to save the others. Commented Jan 20, 2016 at 10:32

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