Once the Buddha told his monks the following story:
‘There was once a pair of jugglers who performed 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 protecting and watching each other in that way, we shall be able to show our skill, make a good profit and safely get down 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-guardedwe shall safely do our feats.”
‘This is the right way’, said the Blessed One and
spoke further as follows:
‘It is just as the apprentice said: “I shall protect myself”–in that way the foundations of mindfulness(satipatthana) should be practised. “I shall protect others”–in that way the foundations of mindfulness should be practised. Protecting oneself, one protects others; protecting others, one protects oneself.
‘And how does one, in protecting oneself, protect others? By the repeated and frequent practice of meditation.
‘And how does one, in protecting others, protect oneself?
By patience and forbearance, by a non-violent and
harmless life, by loving-kindness and compassion.’
The sutta deals with the relations between ourselves and our fellow beings, between individual and society.It sums up in a succinct way the Buddhist attitude to the problems of individual and social ethics, of egoism and altruism. The gist of it is contained in those two concise sentences:
PROTECTING ONESELF, ONE PROTECTS OTHERS.
PROTECTING OTHERS, ONE PROTECTS ONESELF.
These two sentences supplement each other and should not be taken or quoted separately.
(Venerable Nyanaponika Thera)