Training the elephant of the mind

Do you live in New England or New York? Join me at Spirit Fire in Massachusetts for a three-day meditation retreat on training the mind. We will use this thangka for its instruction. September 10-13. Register now. shamathaIn classical Asian meditation training, the mind is equated with an elephant. Seemingly large and uncontrolled, it can wreck havoc inside us when we sit to meditate.

At essence, meditation has three goals: to invert the mind’s tendencies from the external for its frames of reference to the internal, to invite the inherent quality of light of mind to the surface, and to encourage the equally innate qualities of tranquility and spaciousness of mind and awareness. All these require that we train the elephant of the meditationally untrained mind. Why would we want to bother?

  • Because the external world and its influences fluctuate incessantly, thus there cannot be peace of mind or lasting contentment.
  • Because our mind is capable of illumination in a wattage more radiant than the sun, but our common use of the mind is like using a flash light.
  • Because contentment, well-being, and peace of mind were the overriding constant before our current modern lifestyle. Materialism and addictions, entitlement and instant gratification are a by-product of consumerism and the capitalist model. This is not how people have experienced life as the norm for thousands of years. Therefore, like removing caffeine from one’s diet, the benefits of training the mind become obvious and palpable very quickly.

Podcast: Training the elephant of the mind

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