Venerable K. Sri Dhammananda Maha Thera
You Protect Yourself
'Protecting oneself one
'Protecting others one protects oneself.'
the Blessed One told His monks the following story:
once a pair of jugglers who did their acrobatic feats on a bamboo pole.
One day the master said to his apprentice: 'Now
get on my shoulders and climb up the bamboo pole.' When
the apprentice had done so, the master said: 'Now
protect me well and I shall protect you. By watching each other in that
way, we shall be able to show our skill, we shall make a good profit and
you can get down safely from the bamboo pole.' But
the apprentice said: 'Not so, master.
You! O Master, should protect yourself, and I too shall protect myself.
Thus self-protected and self-guarded we shall safely do our feats."
the right way,' said the Blessed One
and spoke further as follows:
just as the apprentice said: 'I shall
protect myself,' in that way the
Foundation of Mindfulness should be practised. 'I
shall protect others,' in that way the
Foundation of Mindfulness should be practised. Protecting oneself one
protects others; protecting others one protects oneself.
does one, in protecting oneself, protect others? By the repeated and
frequent practice of meditation.
does one, by protecting others, protect oneself? By patience and
forbearance, by a non-violent and harmless life, by loving kindness and
oneself one protects others'
'Protecting others one
These two sentences
supplement each other and should not be taken (or quoted) separately.
when social service is so greatly stressed, people may for instance, be
tempted to quote, in support of their ideas, only the second sentence. But
any such one-sided quotation would misrepresent the Buddha's
statement. It has to be remembered that, in our story the Buddha expressly
approved the words of the apprentice, which is that one has first to
carefully watch one's own steps if one
wishes to protect others from harm. He who is sunk in the mire himself
cannot help others out of it. In that sense, self-protection is not
selfish protection. It is the cultivation of self-control, and ethical and
oneself one protects others?the truth
of this statement begins at a very simple and practical level. At the
material level, this truth is so self-evident that we need not say more
than a few words about it. It is obvious that the protection of our own
health will go far in protecting the health of our closer or wider
environment, especially where contagious diseases are concerned. Caution
and circumspection in all our doings and movements will protect others
from harm that may come to them through our carelessness and negligence.
By careful driving, abstention from alcohol, by self-restraint in
situations that might lead to violence?in
all these and many other ways we shall protect others by protecting
We come now to the ethical
level of that truth. Moral self-protection will safeguard others,
individual and society, against our own unrestrained passions and selfish
impulses. If we permit the Three Roots of everything evil, Greed, Hate and
Delusion, to take a firm hold in our hearts, then that which grows from
those evil roots will spread around like the jungle creeper which
suffocates and kills the healthy and noble growth. But if we protect
ourselves against these Three Roots of Evil, fellow beings too will be
safe from our reckless greed for possession and power, from our
unrestrained lust and sensuality, from our envy and jealousy. They will be
safe from the disruptive, or even destructive and murderous, consequences
of our hate and enmity, from the outburst of our anger, from our spreading
an atmosphere of antagonism and quarrelsomeness which may make life
unbearable for those around us. But the harmful effects of our greed and
hate on others are not limited to cases when they become the passive
objects or victims of our hate, or their possession the object of our
greed. Greed and hate have an infectious power, which can multiply the
evil effects. If we ourselves think of nothing else than to crave and
grasp, to acquire and possess, to hold and cling, then we may rouse or
strengthen these possessive instincts in others too. Our bad example may
become the standard of behavior of our environment for instance among our
own children, our colleagues, and so on. Our own conduct may induce others
to join us in the common satisfaction of rapacious desires; or we may
arouse feelings of resentment and competitiveness in others who wish to
beat us in the race. If we are full of sensuality we may kindle the fire
of lust in others. Our own hate may cause the hate and vengeance of
others. It may also happen that we ally ourselves with others or instigate
them to common acts of hate and enmity.
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