One Who Loves Himself Should Not Harm Others (Times of India, Sep. 8, 2021)
As the health and economic crisis prolonged by the Covid-19 pandemic rages on, my heart is pained to know that so many people are now living with a sense of claustrophobic despair. There is concern that people’s connections are weakening and the risk of deepening divisions in society has intensified.
We must always remind ourselves of the fact that there are many others also afflicted with a sense of despair, people from diverse backgrounds who may have lost loved ones or suddenly find themselves in destitution.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has pointed out that this protracted hardship is forcing many to fall back on their savings, if they were fortunate enough to have them, putting their current and future wellbeing at risk. The stark reality of this pandemic is that everyone, regardless of occupational or geographic differences and distinctions of ethnicity or faith, is exposed to the effects of Covid-19 in one way or another.
Of course, it is only natural that we would regard our own lives as the most precious of all. This reality is embraced in the approach to the dignity of life and human rights expounded in the Buddhist teachings practiced by members of the Soka Gakkai International (SGI).
The Buddha’s Teaching
For example, we find the following account drawn from the life and teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha. On one occasion, while in conversation, the king and queen of the ancient Indian kingdom of Kosala came to realize that they each held no one more dear than themselves. Upon hearing their honest feelings, Shakyamuni responded with the following verse:
“Having traversed all quarters with the mind,
One finds none anywhere dearer than oneself.
Likewise, each person holds himself most dear;
Hence one who loves himself should not harm others.”
In other words, if you regard your own life to be precious and irreplaceable, then you should grasp the fact that every other individual must also feel that way. Making this realization the basis for how you conduct your life, you should resolve never to act in ways that will cause harm to others.
As the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic makes its presence felt in virtually every sector of society, many people are finding themselves more attuned to and affected by the pain of others whose lives and dignity are being denied, perhaps with an intensity they have not previously experienced.
Extend Your Love
It is vital to extend the love we feel for ourselves so it opens out and becomes love for others. In so doing, we can rebraid the tapestry of our lives, restoring the ways in which we are connected to others and to society at large. And from there, I am convinced that we can boldly direct our energies into expanding solidarity with those engaged in constructive action and find ways to overcome this crisis together.