An Indian Parable and the Actor’s Mindset

Updated: Dec 19, 2020

There’s a story our meditation teacher likes to recite often, but hearing it again recently made us think just how relevant the message is to actors - especially to all us badass Dojo actors.


So settle in for a little story time, courtesy of this old Indian parable:


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One warm evening, a mother sends her young son to the grocer’s shop with an empty bottle and just enough money to get it filled with oil for cooking.


The young boy goes off to the grocer’s nearby and gets it filled - filled right to the top - and heads home. While making his way back along the path, the young boy is accidentally knocked over and half the oil spills from the bottle. He runs the rest of the way home - crying - and says to his mum, “Oh Mother, I was knocked down and I lost half the oil.”


The compassionate mother comforts him and sends off her second son with another empty bottle and just enough money to get it filled.


The second son makes his way to the grocer’s, gets the bottle filled, and starts heading home. Like his brother before him, he is similarly knocked along the path and again half of the oil spills from the bottle. He runs the rest of the way home - laughing - and says to his mum, “Oh Mother, I was knocked down but I saved half the oil.”


The compassionate mother commends him and - because this is a story (and as actors we’re all more than capable of suspending our disbelief) - sends off her third son with another empty bottle and just enough money to get it filled.


The third son makes his way to the grocer’s, gets the bottle filled to the brim, and like his two brothers earlier, is accidentally knocked on his return. Again, half the oil spills from the bottle (yes, you’d think someone had a vendetta against the family, but bear with us.) He runs the rest of the way home - smiling - and says to his mum, “Oh Mother, I too was knocked down and I too saved half the oil.” However, this boy then continues, “But I also lost half the oil. Tomorrow morning, I will go out, find some work, and pay to have the remainder filled.”


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At this point the parable is then applied to the practice of meditation, but it contains some great wisdom for us actors too.


There are a great number of things outside our control as actors, but one of the things we can control is our mindset. (tweet this ✊🏼)


Like the brothers, we will occasionally face our own equivalent of being knocked down on our way home. But viewing these inevitable events pessimistically will only result in our journey being an unpleasant one.

On the other hand, choosing to view these inevitable events optimistically will result in our journey being much, much, much more enjoyable. We will spend more of our time laughing along the way, less of our time crying.


Yet, there is a third option available to us: the mindset of the third brother. This sees us decide to view these inevitable events optimistically and realistically. The result? Not only will our journey be enjoyable, the road to our desired destination(s) will be quicker, easier, because by taking action we are also taking responsibility and empowering ourselves.


Dojo actors understand the importance of mindset and they work on this just as intently as they work on their craft. If you’d like to dive deeper into this practice and training, feel free to apply for a 1-On-1 Coaching Session with our Head Coach, and get ready to take things to the next level 👊🏼

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