Some people see Buddhism as a selfish practice. Buddhism, however, isn’t selfish at all, it’s the total opposite. Oxygen masks in airplanes, help to display this in Buddhism. The saying on planes, Put(ting) your oxygen mask on before assisting others, is a selfless teaching. The reason for putting your mask on first, is the Buddhist parallel; “Youâ€™ll be no good to anyone if you donâ€™t remain conscious.”
Once you have your mask on things get really exciting on the path. You are then able to help others, by put their masks on for them. You can guide other to the path; you can become their oxygen line. You can begin to bring them peace. No longer are you seen as selfish, your true nature is seen as a selfless, giving person.
In Buddhism your practice will actually get stronger and grow more rapidly once your mask is on. Once you understand how things work inside you, you’ll naturally begin to see how they work in others the same way. You will discover how things work in other people, and see them as teachings about and for yourself.
To help others, you must help yourself first. If you try to help others initially, you will both remain unconscious and will not be able to guide them to the path. Sometimes what appears to the unskilled eye as a selfish gesture is really the most selfless gesture there is.
It takes great courage to help yourself before helping another. It goes against the nature of self. Be skill, however, put on your mask, help yourself, become conscious, and then you will really be helping others.