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Helping Others to Help Yourself

Posted by: Michael Doyle Cluett
Right now is the greatest volunteer experience of my life. This very moment! This now! Why? How?  Is it really possible that you, some one I've never met, could be the sole subjective witness to my greatest moment volunteering? Well maybe by the time I've finished writing this I'll have an answer for you. But for now we proceed into the unknown answerless and unaware of what the next now will show us.

First, know that these symbols I use to describe my experiences are merely sign posts that point to my memories of experience. So, while you decode, keep in mind that everything you think, every image, every judgment, is a creation of your own mind and ultimately an illusion! However vivid, meaningful, or descriptive, everything you experience via reading this is, in fact, a sort of guided day dream. With that in mind...

Let us begin.

Volunteerism for me has a few major rules. The most important one is that to give time to others we must first be able to give time to ourselves. The loudspeaker comes on and the flight attendant says, "Please ensure that you secure your own oxygen mask before assisting others."  This could be considered the baseline requirement for volunteering.  If you are thinking of giving your time to other people make sure you really can. Make sure you got this on lockdown.

Luckily, we're not always on aircrafts with air pressure problems, we are in a somewhat of a secure place with AT LEAST a place to sleep, drinkable water, access to toilets, relative freedom from assault, a job, our health, mobility, access to a computer to read this, the internet as a whole, doctors, glasses, dentists, and so on. We as Canadians (and I use the term loosely) are part of highly diversified, mostly literate society with such insane access to products and services that quite literally most of our suffering actually comes from our own minds and relationships with other minds.

I am reminded of a quote I read on a laminated, rather colourful poster at the Tatamagouche Center in Nova Scotia. It goes something like: "If you are here to help us, we do not need help. If you are here because your path towards freedom is interlaced with our own then we are in solidarity." Or something like that.

So, in short, basically here in Canada we got it made. And the more we realize that helping others is the most effective way to move beyond the majority of our suffering as caused by our own frame of mind, the sooner we will all be happier.

Save Yourself to Save Others.
Save Others to Save Yourself.

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