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Sedaka Suttas

(One And Two)

At Sedaka

One: The Acrobat

Translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
For free distribution only

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was living among the Sumbhas. Now there is a Sumbhan town named Sedaka. There the Blessed One addressed the monks, "Monks!"

"Yes, lord," the monks responded.

The Blessed One said, "Once upon a time, monks, a bamboo acrobat, having erected a bamboo pole, addressed his assistant, Frying Pan: 'Come, my dear Frying Pan. Climb up the bamboo pole and stand on my shoulders.'

"'As you say, Master,' Frying Pan answered the bamboo acrobat and, climbing the bamboo pole, stood on his shoulders.

"So then the bamboo acrobat said to his assistant, 'Now you watch after me, my dear Frying Pan, 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.'

"When he had said this, Frying Pan said to him, '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.'

"What Frying Pan, the assistant, said to her Master was the right way in that case.

"Monks, a frame of reference is to be practiced with the thought, 'I'll watch after myself.' A frame of reference is to be practiced with the thought, 'I'll watch after others.' When watching after oneself, one watches after others. When watching after others, one watches after oneself.

"And how does one, when watching after oneself, watch after others? Through pursuing [the practice], through developing it, through devoting oneself to it. This is how one, when watching after oneself, watches after others.

"And how does one, when watching after others, watch after oneself? Through endurance, through harmlessness, and through a mind of kindness and sympathy. This is how one, when watching after others, watches after oneself.

"A frame of reference is to be practiced with the thought, 'I'll watch after myself.' A frame of reference is to be practiced with the thought, 'I'll watch after others.' When watching after oneself, one watches after others. When watching after others, one watches after oneself."

At Sedaka

Two: The Beauty Queen

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was living among the Sumbhas. Now there is a Sumbhan town named Sedaka. There the Blessed One addressed the monks, "Monks!"

"Yes, lord," the monks responded.

The Blessed One said, "Suppose, monks, that a large crowd of people comes thronging together, saying, 'the beauty queen! The beauty queen!' And suppose that the beauty queen is highly accomplished at singing and dancing, so that an even greater crowd comes thronging, saying, 'The beauty queen is singing! The beauty queen is dancing!' Then a man comes along, desiring life and shrinking from death, desiring pleasure and abhorring pain. They say to him, 'Now look here, mister. You must take this bowl filled to the brim with oil and carry it on your head in between the great crowd and the beauty queen. A man with a raised sword will follow right behind you, and wherever you spill even a drop of oil, right there will he cut off your head.' Now what do you think, monks: Will that man, not paying attention to the bowl of oil, let himself get distracted outside?"

"No, lord."

"I have given you this parable to convey a meaning. The meaning is this: The bowl filled to the brim with oil stands for mindfulness immersed in the body. Thus you should train yourselves: 'we will develop mindfulness immersed in the body. We will pursue it, give it a means of transport, give it a grounding, steady it, consolidate it, and undertake it well.' That is how you should train yourselves."

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