When you were hungry and thirsty, she gave you food and drink, when you were cold, clothes, when you had nothing, she gave you everything of value.
Tsongkhapa, Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path.
Altruism is the selfless concern for the welfare of others - the spirit out of which we choose to take action without want of any reward to ourselves in order to relieve suffering, bring happiness and comfort to other sentient beings. I have a couple of very dear friends who are altruistic in very big ways, Donna Narvaez, who will be walking her 12th consecutive Avon Walk for Breast Cancer this year, and Terry Christopher, who participates each year in the 3 day, 300 mile bike riding event known as Braking the Cycle, in the fight against AIDS.
That being said, I want you to know that you will find unsolicited reward in even the smallest act of altruism in the manner of the immediate sense of inner peace that it will bring to you.
So how do we extend our altruism beyond its present scope? What if we don't have the time or physical ability to participate in marathons? We have families, we have jobs, we have our passions to pursue - isn't that what good old Ro is always telling us to do - pursue our passions?
Here are a few tips on how you can practice altruism in your daily life:
1. Retrain your brain. Understand that all people are the same from a biological level. See everyone as a human being first, who wants to be happy and not to suffer, whether they are friend, neutral or foe.
2. Appreciate kindness. Reflect on all of the times that someone was kind to you, took care of you, extending a helping hand when you needed help.
3. Reciprocate kindness. Pay it forward.
4. Learn to Love. Have a warm hearted concern for all other human beings. If you cannot help, at the very least do not harm them.
5. Commit. Be decisively willing to take on the task of becoming increasingly altruistic.
6. Seek Enlightenment. Think what can I adopt in practice? What can I discard from my current behavior?
Be respectful of all living beings. Appreciate the little kindnesses each day extended by others and our interconnectedness to them. Think of all of the caring that went into that simple cup of coffee that you had when you woke up this morning - the picking of the beans, shipping, trucking, processing, packaging to keep it fresh, shelving so we can easily find it, the supermarket checker ringing it up and the bagger putting it in the bag for you without crushing the eggs or smashing the bread, all so you can have your morning cup of java. Think of the janitor that keeps the bathrooms in your office building sparkly clean and the teacher who wipes your own child's runny nose, the nurse with so many patients to attend to each day. Appreciate the kindness and mindfulness in all of those other human beings simply doing their jobs and going about their day to day lives, and then pay it forward!
Whether it be through your business or employment, or while pursuing your passions, let your motive in all that you do first and foremost be selfless, warm-hearted concern for the welfare of others. Commit to spreading love and happiness! The sense of this is right, this feels good - wow, this makes me feel happy even though I wasn't even thinking about myself when I did it will be your unsolicited reward! Altruism may even become your passion . . .