Watch yourself not others

March 2018 edition

Watch yourself not others

Article summary

Let’s explore another wonderful story given by Samma Sambuddha. It’s in the Sutta Named Sedaka Sutta: The Bamboo Acrobat; in Samyuktha Nikaya, Pali Canon.

The Samma Sambuddha addressed the monks: Once upon a time, monks, a bamboo acrobat, setting himself upon his bamboo pole, addressed his assistant Medakathalika: "Come you, my dear Medakathalika, and climbing 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!"

[The Buddha said:]

Just like the assistant Medakathalika said to her master:

"I will look after myself," so should you, monks, practice the establishment of Sathara Satipaṭṭhāna {four domains to be aware of (satipatthana): body (kāyā), sensations/feelings (vedanā), mind/consciousness (cittā)) and feelings / defilements arise as a result (dhammas)} And how does one look after others by looking after oneself? By practicing (awareness), by developing (it), by doing (it) a lot.”

Four domains of awareness, sometimes call as four foundation of mindfulness is what we call “Sathara Satipaṭṭhāna” in Buddhism.  This is all about awareness. I feel, more than the mindfulness, the word awareness is the most appropriate word which translate the depth of these words.  As you can see in the story also one should aware of their own action, one should watch own self, not other’s.  Because that’s how the both can survive and achieve the fruit of their action. 

Awareness is most important practice in Buddhism and when one is aware with the action they do, say or think they are looking after oneself.  As a result, it will guide to looking after others too.

“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.”

Because when you are aware of your own actions you won’t think about harming or criticizing others unkindly.  If the awareness is there one doesn’t even think about peeping on to other’s actions or how they behave.  They simply don’t care about what other’s do.  They care about their own behaviors.  In that manner they can care about others too.  Because even when they say something to another being, or act towards another being they are filled with loving kindness and specially the patience.

So, my dear Dhamma practitioners.    Watch yourself rather than peeping on to other’s practices.  If you practice correctly, you will gain the fruit and you can share them with others with kindness.  This is how we can spread the pure Dhamma, and make it shine through our practice. 

Have a blessed time & keep the Samma Sambuddha’s greatest advices in heart to overcome the difficulties in your practices!

Rajitha Viduransi | Kelaniya, Sri Lanka