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An Elephant and a Fly

A disciple and his teacher were walking through the forest. The

disciple was disturbed by the fact that his mind was in constant


He asked his teacher, “Why most people’s minds are restless, and only

a few possess a calm mind? What can one do to still the mind?”

The teacher looked at the disciple, smiled and said, “I will tell you

a story. An elephant was standing and picking leaves from a tree. A

small fly came, flying and buzzing near his ear. The elephant waved it

away with his long ears. Then the fly came again, and the elephant

waved it away once more.”

This was repeated several times. Then the elephant asked the fly, “Why

are you so restless and noisy? Why can’t you stay for a while in one


The fly answered: “I am attracted to whatever I see, hear or smell. My

five senses pull me constantly in all directions and I cannot resist

them. What is your secret? How can you stay so calm and still?”

The elephant stopped eating and said, “My five senses do not rule my

attention. Whatever I do, I get immersed in it. Now that I am eating,

I am completely immersed in eating. In this way I can enjoy my food

and chew it better. I rule and control my attention, and not the other

way around.”

Upon hearing these words, the disciple’s eyes opened wide and a smile

appeared on his face. He looked at his teacher and said, “I

understand! If my five senses are in control of my mind and attention,

then my mind is in constant unrest. If I am in charge of my five

senses and attention, then my mind becomes calm.”

“Yes, that’s right”, answered the teacher, “The mind is restless and

goes wherever the attention is. Control your attention, and you

control your mind.”

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