Of the many wonderful things in the world, caring for others is the most crucial of them all. Immigrants care for their homelands, travelers care about their families, parents care about their children, and we all care about our sick relatives. Caring is indeed the greatest of virtues!
Caring is the exchange of respect for one another, the recognition of each other’s existence. It comes in many forms and can be seen in everyday life. For instance, regardless of nationality, people the world over greet each other every day with a “How are you?” The Chinese commonly ask each other “Have you eaten yet?” These simple questions are examples of caring for each other. There is a saying, “After three months on the frontlines, a letter from home is worth thousands of gold pieces.” Obtaining a message of well-being during times of danger and hardship is worth more than gold. When we care, we call or send a note across the miles to distant loved ones.
Listening to others’ problems and feelings is caring. Paying them a special visit is also caring. So is presenting an appropriate gift, inquiring disaster victims of their condition, looking after the sick, encouraging those taking an exam, congratulating those celebrating happy occasions, or being sympathetic to those in grief. A word of care is a form of kindness, friendship, blessing, and connection. Those who are weak, those in suffering, and those faced with disappointments and setbacks need caring the most. A call of encouragement, a letter of concern, or a visit may be the turning point in the life of a person.
Care is more important than just money or material goods. In today’s society, any kindhearted person will readily help those in need, donating a few dollars to the poor or victims of natural disasters. However, what the aged and weak need most is attention, as do the poor and needy. “Relief” often strips others of respect, but “care” provides others with encouragement.
In the spiring of “caring”, the Buddha showed special care to unintelligent Ksullapanthaka and paid special attention to the lowly Nidhi. The Buddha taught us to show concern about those who are sick or suffering. As we have been cared for by many others when we were young, we should care for others in return.
In addition to learning to care for others, we should also care for ourselves. When spring arrives, have we planted the seeds for a fall harvest? When an exam comes, have we prepared for it? When it is time for lunch, have we cooked the meal? When guests are coming, are we ready to receive them?
As the Chinese saying goes, “The poor living in towns have no one to ask about them, but the wealthy living in the deep mountains receive distant guests.” The wealthy have no need for our concern, but those in need may find our care to be more valuable than gold. The best kind of care is to help in a time of need, not in times of plenty.