2 Types of Fools – Bala Sutta

“Monks, these two are fools. Which two?

  1. The one who takes up a burden that hasn’t fallen to him, and
  2. The one who doesn’t take up a burden that has.

These two are fools.”

Bala Sutta

What does this mean?

It means:

Mind your own business – don’t keep minding other peoples’ businesses

Take care of your own house.  Don’t keep wasting your time finding faults in other peoples’ houses.

Be careful about sticking your nose into other people’s business where it doesn’t belong.  Why?

  1. Because your opinion may not even be needed let alone wanted.
  2. You may only have a partial, incomplete view of the situation – not the complete, holistic view of the situation from all angles.  So any advice or criticisms you dish out – may be incomplete – or even totally wrong.
  3. You could be biting off more than you can chew.  Some people have problems of such a magnitude that:
    • They can not be solved with just a simplistic few words of advice from you – no matter how well meaning
    • Some people require years of psychiatric or psychological therapy and even medication
  4. You could potentially make things worse – whatever you’re doing, don’t make things worse.

It’s like saving someone from drowning – Don’t get dragged down yourself

Further, if you even try to help people, they might pull you down with them.  It’s like trying to save a person from drowning – they might pull you down with them:

  • If you’re strong enough and skilled enough – you’ll be okay and be able to save them.  Say if you’re a life saver and you’re strong enough and have been trained to handle these situations by yourself or in a team – then there’ll be no problem saving them.
  • But if you’re weak and not trained properly and don’t have support to rely upon – and they start thrashing about and freaking out => Then they can easily pull you down with them – and then both of you are in trouble!

You don’t want 2 people drowning when originally, there was only 1!

I know of a well meaning family who, out of compassion, went out of their way to try and help someone get back on their feet again for months.  But in the end, he’s poisoned their family’s relationships.  So be careful who you keep close – as some people, you need to keep at arms length – as they can bring ruin to you and your family (usually they’re gamblers, alcoholics or drug addicts or people with mental problems).

So be careful what you take on and not take on.  You need to be able to walk away when people start picking fights with you – and say – this is worth more problems that I’m happy to devote time and energy and effort to.  Plus, I’m not the strongest person in the world regarding this issue – this person can pull me down further.  I’ve got better things to do than attend to nonsense – and this is the key to minding your own business!

Take Full Responsbilities of the Burdens that HAVE fallen upon you

You need to focus on the things that YOU have to pay attention to.  Mind your own business.  Take care of what needs to be taken care of – don’t let those things remain undone or done only half heartedly.  Put your effort into it wholeheartedly!

Say you’re a student and you need to study in order get your degree or certificate.  Then put your whole heart into studying.  Don’t just cram for your exams:

  • Try to get an education instead.
  • Try to learn the key principles – most importantly, try to understand those key principles – because from those first principles, you can often work everything else out. 

Because if you understand something on a  fundamental level, you don’t have to remember as much – so this saves you on having to memorize absolutely everything for your exams.  You need to have some memorization ability, but beyond that, you need to understand the fundamentals.

Whatever you cram for your exams – you can easily forget the week after.  But say you learn something properly and understand it early on in your semester – by the time exam time comes, all you will need to do is review it  – and it will still be there for you.

Let’s take another example – if it’s your kids or your family in trouble – then it IS your business.  That’s a different story.  Because your kids and family are YOUR karma.  Their karma is intertwined with yours.  So you do your best.  Because that’s a burden that you have to take up!  But be careful not to get dragged down into the quagmire with them, otherwise, you’ll both drown in the swamp.

So take care of what needs to be taken care of.  Pay attention to what you’re supposed to pay attention to.

Keep the Main Thing – The Main Thing

Mind your own business also means don’t get distracted by minor things and get taken off on unimportant tangents.  Keep the main thing, the main thing.  Don’t take your eye off the ball and lose concentration.  Focus on the most important things and rather than waste time on the unimportant ones.

Sacrificing little good deeds in order to achieve something great

Sometimes, you need to sacrifice little goods.  In order to achieve something great – you need to say no to a lot of little good deeds that.  Why?  Because that great thing that you achieve would be worth more than the sum of all those little good deeds that you do!  That great goodness that you perform could be worth several times the total amount of those little good deeds that you do – sometimes making several hundreds or even thousands of times difference!

This, you can apply to your time too – how you spend your time.  The people around you will always have agendas for you.  If those agendas are worthwhile and make a great difference to yourself or to others – then it would be worthwhile pursuing these agendas from other people.

But what you’ll find is that often, other people have selfish, self serving agendas that are just nonsense and waste your time.  So you need to learn how to say no to people.

And you also sometimes need to learn how to say no to yourself as well – if it doesn’t take you in the direction of that great thing that you want to achieve.  So sometimes, you have to sacrifice those small benefits in order to achieve something great!

So Mind your own business.  Pay attention to your own business!  Don’t get distracted and lose focus!

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