Now, from the Buddhist viewpoint, how can one bring help to others? There is the giving of things, such as food, clothing and shelter. But it has a limit, just as it doesn't bring complete satisfaction to you, it doesn't to others either. Thus, just as it is the case that through your own improvement through practice, through the gradual purification of your own mind you develop more and more happiness, so it is the case for others. For others to understand what they are to adopt and practise in order to achieve this, and what they should stop doing, you have to be fully capable of teaching these topics. Sentient beings are of limitlessly different predispositions, interests, dormant attitudes and so forth. If you don't develop the exalted activities of body and speech that accord exactly with what other beings need, then full help cannot be given. There is no way to do this unless you overcome the obstructions to omniscience, to knowing everything. It is in the context of seeking help for others that one seeks the state of Buddhahood, in which one has overcome the obstacles to omniscience.
Charity, giving, is a case of training from the depths of one's heart in an attitude of generosity such that one is not seeking any result or effect of the giving for oneself.
In the Bodhisattva training in ethics, the main practice is to restrain the attitude of seeking one's own benefit, self-centeredness. This will bring about, for instance, an engagement in giving of charity, such that one could not possibly bring harm to others. In order to practise giving properly, one can't do anything that brings harm to others, so in order to bring about giving that is exclusively helpful, one needs this Bodhisattva ethic of restraining self-centeredness.
In order to have pure ethics it is necessary to cultivate patience. In order to train in the practice of equalizing and exchanging self and others, patience is particularly important. It will be very useful for you to practise using the techniques that Shantideva sets forth in his Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life, in both the chapter on patience and the chapter on concentration. The practice of patience establishes the foundation for the equalizing of self and others. This is because the hardest problem we have in generating the Bodhisattva's attitude is developing a sense of affection and closeness for our enemies. When we think of enemies in the context of the practice of patience, not only is an enemy not someone who harms you, instead, an enemy is seen as someone who helps.
You come to realize, 'There is no way I could cultivate patience about harm to myself unless there was someone out there to harm me'. As it is said, there are many beings to- whom one can give, but there are very few beings with respect to whom one can practise patience. The value of what is rare is higher, isn't it? Really, the so-called enemy is very kind. Through cultivating patience the power of one's merit increases, and it can only be done in dependence upon an enemy. Thus, an enemy does not prevent the practice of Dharma, rather, he helps.
In his Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life, Shantideva states a hypothetical objection, which is, 'Well, the enemy has no motivation to help'. The answer is, that for something to be helpful it is not necessary for it to have the motivation to help. For instance, true cessations, liberation, the third of the four noble truths help one greatly, but liberation has no motivation. Even if an enemy doesn't have a wish to help, it is suitable to respect him.
The next objection is, 'At least cessation, or liberation does not have the wish to harm me. Whereas the enemy, even if he has no wish to help, like liberation, does have the wish to harm'. The answer is that because this person has the wish to harm, he becomes an enemy, and you need that enemy in order to cultivate patience. Someone like a doctor who has no wish to harm, who is trying to help you, cannot provide a situation for the cultivation of patience. So this is the ancient great Bodhisattvas' experience and their reasons, which are very effective. When you think about it this way, you could only hold on to self-cherishing if you were stubborn, because there is no reason for it, whereas there are plenty of reasons why you should cherish others.
Another important type of patience or forbearance is voluntary acceptance of suffering. Before suffering comes, it is important to engage in techniques to avoid it, but once suffering has begun, it should not be taken as a burden, but as something useful, that can assist you.
Another thought is that through undergoing suffering in this lifetime, one can overcome the karma of many ill-deeds ac-cumulated in former lifetimes. It also helps you to see the faults of cyclic existence. The more you see this, the more will you develop a dislike for engaging in ill-deeds. It will help you to see the advantage of liberation. Through your own experience of suffering, you'll be able to infer how others suffer, thus generating compassion. When you think about suffering this way, you may almost come to feel that it is a good opportunity to practise more and to think more.
Then comes effort, which is very important. The effort like armour and so forth, is generating a willingness to engage in enthusiastic practice over aeons if need be, in order to being about development. This helps tremendously in avoiding getting impatient, irritated or excited over some small temporary condition. Then comes concentration, then wisdom.