Buddha and flowers

Is Meditation Selfish? Advice from the Acrobat Sutta

“You do not have to set yourself on fire to keep others warm.” 

The above idiom is one I confess I need to reflect upon often, to remind myself of its truth, and also its sound advice … and, I know I’m not alone.

During a recent 5-day retreat I led in Maryland over Memorial Day Weekend, I found myself repeating this same phrase over and over during private meetings with students.

This is because, regardless of our own personal circumstances, it seems the vast majority of us tend to grapple with what is considered an ancient human torment: the challenge of trying to balance a need for self-care, along with a strong sense of feeling responsible for helping others, or the world in general – a particular push and pull that can often be so painful. 

Happily, for us, the Buddha was also aware of this struggle 2600 years ago, and offered us some very sage advice about how to work with it, in many different ways. 

For June’s talk, “Is Meditation Selfish?” I thought I’d explore just one of his teachings on this, The Bamboo Acrobat Sutta, which is truly one of my most favorite of his sermons.

I dearly love it, because it not only contains incredibly rich and transformational advice for how we can conduct ourselves in this world – especially in relationship – but because it also shows us how we can find a more harmonious and peaceful balance between what can often feel like two conflicting needs. 

As always, I hope that it will serve.

FYI: Spots have been filling quickly for the next 5-day residential retreat, “LOVING YOURSELF: Nurturing the Heart Practices,” in Romney, VA. (It’s about 1/2 full!) 

In the meantime, I hope you might join me in practice soon!

With joy and kind wishes, ~ Shell