Help Ever, Hurt Never – Sri Satya Sai Baba, whose 5th Anniversary of Mahasamadhi had fallen on April 24th used to say these words often. Even though I heard these words from his speeches in 1970s and tried to practice them since then, however, it took a long time for me to understand the real spiritual meaning of those words from the point of expansion of individual consciousness and realizing the Oneness of individual souls. In other words, the entire Vendanta is condensed into these simple words, which are not difficult to follow for any one keen to evolve spiritually, provided one understand the real meaning of those words. What these words mean is, help others if you can; if you cannot, at least refrain from hurting others. Incidentally, this is exactly what is needed to solve the current world problems, starting from individual level to the community to the country and to the global level. All the conflicts we see around in the world today, at all levels, can be solved if these words are followed in letter and spirit. Hence, let us dissect these golden words a little bit more and try to understand the hidden Divine meaning in them.
Why should a person help others? It is a good question. People generally help others due to various reasons, starting from the so called self-interest or vested interest on one extreme to love and compassion to the other extreme. In between there may be many reasons, such as just to be nice to others so that they can be nice in return. Whatever many be the reason, helping others is a good thing and it should be encouraged by all means, irrespective of the motive behind it. A person may initially start helping others due to self-interest. But over the time, because of the goodness in helping others, the consciousness of that person expands and he/she may gradually evolve to help others without any self-interest, but just for the inner happiness and peace one experiences. As more and more people in the community and the world indulge in helping others, the better conflicts can be solved and sooner or later they cease to arise. By minimizing the conflicts or by solving them in a peaceful manner, a community will prosper better by creative thinking, cooperation and increased productivity. Time and again history has proven that but for the conflicts and the time spent on them, the humanity could have progressed a lot more than what it is today. So, by practicing the principle of helping others, humanity can live at a much higher level of existence. So, obviously love and compassion, which are the source of all good behavior leading to a sense of helping others is the need of the hour in the society.
Why should a person hurt others? Again, there may be a number of reasons why a person hurts others. It may be selfishness or jealousy or ego or authoritative behavior or simply madness. But according to the late Sri Jiddu Krishnamurthy, one of the greatest thinkers of the 20th century, a person who cannot understand himself/herself hurts others. He said “….because we don’t know ourselves we are destroying other human beings. We are destroying this marvelous earth”. It may sound strange, but it is true that a person who cannot understand himself/herself well enough can hurt others more easily than a person who can understand himself/herself. In other words, the more and more we understand ourselves, we attain more peaceful attitude, and we realize that we are not in conflict with any person and thus try to understand others, instead of hurting them. It is all about expansion of inner consciousness that makes a person better. No amount of worldly education can teach this. It is something one has to learn by one’s own thinking and conscious efforts to understand oneself. But unfortunately, people are so much immersed in worldly matters, and running all the time, they do not sit quietly and think about themselves for a minute. They only think what they want and how to get that. Again Jiddu Krishnamurthy said “We have got the capacity, the energy, the sufficient intelligence to go into ourselves, look at ourselves, face ourselves, never escaping from ourselves, we got all the energy to do that. But apparently when it comes to us, we become a kind of slack. Nobody is going to give it (a try). That is one absolute fact; irrefutable fact.” He says that we do not really confront our own inner self (although we are ready to confront everyone else). We run away from our inner self. This leads us to conflicts everywhere we go. The more and more such conflicts we face, the more we become insensitive and do not hesitate to hurt others even on trivial matters.
How can we avoid hurting others? This is something we all need to contemplate seriously. Of course, to avoid hurting others we need to make conscious efforts to understand ourselves first. In addition to that, we should start thinking that we are all related and connected in one way or other in this world. Imagine that we are all like pearls in a beautiful necklace called the world, then each one of us is connected through an invisible thread that runs deep through ourselves and our hearts. If we can understand that we are all connected to each other through a common binding principle, however distant we may appear in terms of worldly relations, then our vision of the world changes forever. We do not hurt others, because we realize that if we hurt others, that hurts us also; because the same principle is binding us all together like a thread in the necklace called the world. If a necklace is damaged even at a single spot, all pearls can fall down. This knowledge or understanding is the beginning of the Universal Love or love for all beings, and it only can help us to avoid hurting us. Some of us may say that they had to intentionally hurt someone else because that someone first hurt them. For this Satya Sai Baba had a nice response: When the tooth accidentally bites your tongue, do you get angry and break the tooth that hurt it so? No! For, the teeth and tongue are both yours! Similarly, the one hurts you and you, are both limbs of the same body called God.
Nothing stops us following the Golden Words: If we can practice this one single principle of Help Ever and Hurt Never in our lives, it brings more happiness, peace and fulfillment into our lives than anything else. Even if we cannot help others, but if we can take a pledge that we should not hurt others, it will change our lives a lot, and elevate us in the society. People will notice such virtues and respect those who do not hurt others. Even in the present day world, such virtues are respected. This will in turn bless us with true power to do great things in the community by bringing the people together. As Swami Vivekananda aptly said such a person will become a major force in the society and can achieve great and noble things. If we look into the lives of the great men and women of the past, irrespective of their geographical location, they all have the trait of helping others and hurting none. Because of that, they could bring people together and lead them. We can also become like them, if we want. Nothing stops us from doing so, provided if we do not hesitate to follow the simple principle in life – help ever, hurt never.
The author is a medical scientist and freelance writer, and lives in Sandy, Utah.
Prof. Bellamkonda K. Kishore, M.D., Ph.D., MBA