The Bamboo Acrobat

The Buddha told a story:
Once upon a time a bamboo acrobat, setting himself upon his bamboo pole, addressed his assistant Medakathalika:

“Come you, my dear Medakathalika, climb up the bamboo pole, stand upon my shoulders.”

“Okay, master” the assistant Medakathalika replied to the bamboo acrobat; and climbing up the bamboo pole she stood on the master’s shoulders.

So then the bamboo acrobat said this to his assistant Medakathalika:

“You look after me, my dear Medakathalika, and I’ll look after you. Thus with us looking after one another, guarding one another, we’ll show off our craft, receive some payment, and safely climb down the bamboo pole.”

This being said, the assistant Medakathalika said this to the bamboo acrobat:

“That will not do at all, master! You look after yourself, master, and I will look after myself. Thus with each of us looking after ourselves, guarding ourselves, we’ll show off our craft, receive some payment, and safely climb down from the bamboo pole. That’s the right way to do it!”

After the story the Buddha said the following:

Just like the assistant Medakathalika said to her master:

“I will look after myself,” so should you, monks, practice the establishment of mindfulness.

You should also practice the establishment of mindfulness by saying

“I will look after others.”

Looking after oneself, one looks after others. Looking after others, one looks after oneself.

And how does one look after others by looking after oneself? By practicing mindfulness, by developing it, by doing it a lot.

And how does one look after oneself by looking after others? By patience, by non-harming, by loving kindness, by caring for others.

Thus looking after oneself, one looks after others; and looking after others, one looks after oneself.

– From the Sedaka Sutta. 

Author: Bite-Size Dhamma

I'm a Buddhist layperson, trying to live well and skilfully with compassion, generosity, and discernment. I work in the field of housing law and homelessness casework. I have a beautiful kind wife, a very cute dog, and two loveable but surly cats.

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