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I have these questions:

  • If an enlightened mind sees that helping someone is beneficial to them, then would they do it even when the helped doesn't proactively ask?
  • If they are hated by the helped, then would that hate be irrelevant to the intention? Is it perfectly fine to continue the help despite of the rejection?
  • How is that different to converting them?

My self-answer is that of course it is fine to do that, given that the helper is truly sure that their help will bring benefit in the long term. There are many such stories about the ones sacrificing themselves to rescue those who try to kill them, Buddhists or not. However, from the perspective of the receiving end, it is still unsolicited help. They only see that action as unsolicited, or even stalking. They may even see the helper is having a big attachment/mental problem. Although this is just a misunderstanding, I think the helped has the right to challenge that intention.

How does Buddhism address that?


For the question that how the helper knows what is beneficial to the helped, read Does following logic necessarily require one to conclude that they are objective and have no bias?

  • Whould householder Ooker listen to help if against his thoughts? – Samana Johann Jun 7 at 11:36
  • I would assume good faith first, so I will happily listen why my approach is wrong. I understand that this can only happen in the best case; while you are in a rush probably you just want to get things done, and your mind may not be calm to consider other options. – Ooker Jun 7 at 12:36
  • May person thought it's a question. Not much desire to get householder Ooker from what he likes to hold on, althought even contradicting his stand possible with it. – Samana Johann Jun 8 at 11:52
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If an enlightened mind sees that helping someone is beneficial to them, then would they do it even when the helped doesn't proactively ask?

Yes. They would help without being asked, as the Buddha did. However, the Buddha did this relatively rarely and only to those he knew he could help. The difficult issue is actually knowing intervening when not asked will benefit the person. For example, often I would like to help some people but sense I cannot actually help them; given they are difficult to change.

If the enlightened one is hated by the helped, then would that hate be irrelevant to the intention? Is it perfectly fine to continue the help despite of the rejection?

An Enlightened One, that knows the mind of others (due to psychic power) would not try to help another who would reject them. As I said, the difficult issue is truly knowing we can help another.

How does that be different to converting them?

The Buddha converted many individuals however only because he knew it was the best thing for them; due to their inherent disposition. As the saying goes: "When the student is ready; the teacher appears".

My self-answer is that of course it is fine to do that, given that the helper is truly sure that their help will bring benefit in the long term.

Yes. We agree.

There are many such stories about the ones sacrificing themselves to rescue those who try to kill them, Buddhists or not.

Angulimala Sutta.

However, from the perspective of the receiving end, it is still unsolicited help. They only see that action as unsolicited, or even stalking. They may even see the helper is having a big attachment/mental problem. Although this is just a misunderstanding, I think one has a right to challenge that intention.

Someone who can be helped will be grateful. I think there would be nothing worse than learning that someone who could truly actually help you decided not to help you. It is best to follow the example of the Buddha. While the Buddha did not attempt to help everyone, the Buddha did intervene unsolicited to help those who he was absolutely certain he could help.

Note: Since we do not have psychic powers, it is rare we can be certain we can help another, unsolicited.

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    ah, so this is simply "only do when you are certain that you will be success"? I suppose knowing the mind of others is today called perspective-taking. With logic, as the question of Philosophy SE suggests, I think we can improve that certainty? – Ooker May 22 at 13:31
  • No. Helping others requires a moral perspective. – Dhammadhatu May 23 at 5:40
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    @Ooker, I sense an incredible danger and not a small amount of hubris in thinking that one can, through tangential contact, be “certain that you will be success” in providing true “help” to someone. We humans are such complex creatures with such different life experiences, I would be astounded that true “help” could be administered by a relative stranger. Opinions, yes; bromides, certainly – but true “help”? As Dhammadhatu said, “it is rare we can be certain we can help another, unsolicited”. I’d be stronger in this by saying only a true enlightened one could. With hubris, Jim – GVCOJims May 24 at 21:29
  • @GVCOJims I look up "bromide" and it seems that the word mean "cliché". What do you mean by that? Anyway, the premise of the question is that the person has actually become a true enlightened one. The advice everyone gives here is that be really sure that you are indeed one. I thought that with mindfulness you can be an enlightened one, at least temporarily. – Ooker May 25 at 2:08
  • @GVCOJims quite the opposite, I would think that human is quite sensitive to "wrongfulness". When people have a self, they are very likely to have self-conscious emotions. The person who has those emotions are very likely to be irrational, and we have evolved to detect such emotions of others quite accurate (but poorly of ourselves) . – Ooker May 25 at 3:53
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Your description of "help" is too vague and it's most likely not really "help" - in a way a Buddhist should help people. It sounds more like an imposition.

In the Diamond Sutra, it is said that one should practice charity and compassion with no regard to appearances. So you should GIVE, despite being loved or hated - but also, despite your own ideas about "right and wrong".

If a person is poor and hungry, you give him food, or money and go away. It doesn't matter if they'll appreciate it, or what they think about you.

If a person is carrying a heavy load, you help them and go away. It doesn't matter if they'll appreciate it, or what they think about you.

If a person wants you to listen, you listen. It doesn't matter if they'll appreciate it, or what they think about you.

If a person wants you to go away, you go away. It doesn't matter if they'll appreciate it, or what they think about you.

That's helping.

If a person wants to smoke and you don't want them to, so you make schemes to prevent them from smoking, that's not helping anything at all, but your own ego and your wish to control, that, according to Buddhism, you should let go of.

"Pile up money for your children, they will just spend it. Pile up books for your grandchildren, they won’t read them. The best thing to do is to quietly accumulate your own virtue, Quietly and in secret. Such a gift will benefit your descendants for a long, long time." (Hakuin)

Buddhism is searching for happiness inside oneself. "If we look for the Buddha outside ourselves, the Buddha becomes a demon." (Dogen)

  • By definition, the enlightened mind has no ego. What do you think about this? – Ooker May 23 at 2:16
  • I'd rather say "the enlightened mind is not attached, or controlled by the ego". There are certainly accounts of great masters who forgot not only about their egos, but everything about themselves, being described as a "block of wood". But that's not "the enlightened mind"; just cases of enlightened minds. It's like the reflections on a pool of water. You can focus on them and you'll stop seeing the water. If you focus on the water, you stop noticing the reflections. – Daniel Abreu de Queiroz May 24 at 3:15
  • Both are sides of the same thing. The enlightened mind realizes the reflection for what they are - illusions - it doesn't mean "doesn't have reflections". – Daniel Abreu de Queiroz May 24 at 3:15
  • Suppose that person wants to smoke, but the smoker once expressed that they want to quit smoking. However, when they are having a nicotine craving, they just can't remember anything. Even when they allow the helper to help them before, they will fight and accuse them for "who are you to force me?". What would a Buddhist do in this situation? – Ooker Jun 7 at 12:22
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This is only limited to my understanding about Buddhism, but isn't that koan the exemplar of this? The koan teacher deliberately makes the student confused. Could this be considered as "correcting others' view in spite of their willingness to accept it"?

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