I've recently read The Dhammapada, a collections of sayings from the Buddha. It's a beautiful little book that you can read bits of when you like (though I read it from cover to cover). So here is the quote for today:
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From The Dhammapada, (ancient Buddhist text)
"Your worst enemy cannot harm you
As much as your own thoughts, unguarded.
But once mastered,
No one can help you as much,
Not even your own father or your mother.
You are the source
Of all purity and impurity.
No one purifies another."

From this, we can see that the main contributor to your well-being is yourself, in particular, the state of mind from which your thoughts arise and form your perceptions of others and the world. So in order to help others, which is one of the goals of Buddhists, you must help yourself. Not by making yourself wealthy, but by cultivating your thoughts and intentions to good purposes.
Others can teach you and guide you to the right path, but only you can walk it yourself. So by cultivating yourself, spiritually in particular, you will be better able to guide others to do the same, and allow them to purify themselves with the knowledge you possess from your own experiences. Although Buddhists focus on helping people achieve happiness and virtue, the ultimate goal is to attain liberation from the world and to achieve the state of Nirvana, and in particular, to help every sentient being in the world get there. This is not attainable through things like sacrifices but by purifying one's mind. As the quote says, the worst enemies to this goal, the ultimate goal, are your own thoughts. We all know that negative thoughts can have large impacts on ourselves, from what we believe, to our outlook on the world, to our actions that flow from them. We must really master ourselves as opposed to others: ultimately, it is not a war against whatever villain might be impeding our success, but the fear and hatred that is in ourselves, because that is what we can never escape from, even though we might be in a place that is safe from all physical dangers. Yes, we have to be free from those "villains" too, but once free of them, will we be able to survive with ourselves? (This isn't really in the Dhammapada. Shakespeare's Macbeth is an extreme example of what I'm thinking about). For who really is your worst enemy? We can be our own worst enemies, and so too our own saviours.
The path that Buddhists follow to master themselves is called the Eightfold Path, which has eight qualities to cultivate in order to awaken to your true nature, and to eliminate the negative qualities that might be obscuring it:

 
All of these qualities have to do with yourself, not others, because it is only yourself that you can change best, since when the change comes from within, you initiate it and have the right motivation and effort. The idea of right mindfulness and concentration on the Eightfold Path has to do with mediation, becoming receptive and going beyond ideas of the ego and oneself. The right view and intention are just what the Dhammapada was talking about: "Your worst enemy cannot harm you / As much as your own thoughts, unguarded." That is one of the keys to happiness as well as Nirvana: not to rely on others to save us, but to initiate it ourselves, and reach up by means of our own efforts to cultivate our minds to be better.





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