Is taking care of our own health also beneficial to others?

A student writes:

I am studying Mandala Principle (one of the core themes in the Living the Awakened Heart Training) and in the section on Avidya [Ignorance that causes suffering] you say “most of us never challenge that ego mandala, but simply occupy our days with frenetic activity trying to preserve our body and acquire those things that make us feel good…”.

My question is about activity trying to preserve the body. I am somewhat confused about this. I  can see where chasing after the newest anti wrinkle creams etc would be futile, and while ultimately pointless, wouldn’t exercising and eating healthy foods to take care of selves be important?

Lama Shenpen replies:

Yes indeed.  Looking after our health is a way of helping both ourselves and others.

It is not kind to others to neglect ourselves so that they end up having to look after us unnecessarily – nevertheless healthy living doesn’t mean we wont end up needing others to look after us – that is another matter.

Helping others and being helped is a two way relationship in which each can benefit!


Lama Shenpen’s students are all studying the Living the Awakened Heart Training – a structured, comprehensive, supported, distance learning programme in Buddhist meditation, reflection and insight. The training, which is open to all, brings the profound Dzogchen and Mahamudra teachings to a Western audience in an experiential, accessible way, through spiral learning. Find out more and how to join at