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05.06.09 : How a Apprentice Taught His Master Mindfulness

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  • NamoAmituofo
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    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 4, 2009

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      Realisation: How a Apprentice Taught His Master Mindfulness


      Looking after oneself, one looks after others.
      Looking after others, one looks after oneself. - Sedaka Sutta

      In the Sedaka Sutta, the Buddha shared a very apt analogy on the importance of self-responsibility in practising mindfulness. In this teaching, he spoke of an apprentice acrobat and his master, who instructed him to climb up a bamboo pole to stand on his shoulders. The master suggested, 'Now you watch after me, and I'll watch after you. Thus, protecting one another, watching after one another, we'll show off our skill, receive our reward, and come down safely from the bamboo pole.' To that, the apprentice surprisingly replied, 'But that won't do at all, master. You watch after yourself, and I'll watch after myself, and thus with each of us protecting ourselves, watching after ourselves, we'll show off our skill, receive our reward, and come down safely from the bamboo pole.'

      The Buddha remarked that mindfulness is likewise practised with the personal intention to watch after oneself before watching others. Yet when one watches after oneself well, one will watch after others well too. This is done by diligently developing mindfulness. Conversely after, when one watches after others, one watches after oneself too. This is done by practising patient harmlessness with loving empathy. Though we might collectively affect one another, we are ultimately responsible for our own physical and spiritual well-being. Even when we have a good teacher who advises us perfectly, the onus is on us to practise mindfulness well. The subject of first priority to be mindful of is ourselves, instead of others.

      Relating to the acrobats’ act, if we cannot even watch ourselves well, there is no point in watching others, because not watching ourselves well can harm others too. Both ourselves and others around us are directly affected by our mindfulness or the lack of it! The safety of the acrobatic duo thus laid in their individual self-mindfulness, that spills over to mindfulness of the other. If everyone is likewise mindful, there will be peace and harmony for all. Like a balancing act, momentary lapses of mindfulness via careless distraction can lead to dangerous slips. Though it might not always be a matter of physical life and death, it can spell the end of the spiritual life in the moment - till we become sufficiently mindful again! – Shen Shi’an

      Mindfulness of oneself cultivates wisdom.
      Mindfulness of others cultivates compassion. - Stonepeace

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