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Taming the Elephant: A Buddhist Key to Ending the Cycle of Suffering

In the eighth century, there lived in India a former prince who gave up his kingdom to attend Nalanda University, the great Buddhist centre of learning.

There, to all outward appearances, he did absolutely nothing. His peers joked that his three attainments were eating, sleeping and defecating.  To humiliate him, they asked him to give a prestigious lecture.  

He asked if they wanted to hear a traditional teaching or something new.

They asked for something new.

And to their astonishment, he taught them an entire practical system for escaping the cycle of suffering and helping others to do the same.  His secret?

With the utmost effort I should check To see that the crazed elephant of my mind Is not wandering off.

Changing the mind is changing the world.  As he wrote, no one has enough material to cover all the sharp objects on the ground, but to someone who wears sandals, it is as though they are all covered.

Choje Lama Yeshe Losal Rinpoche explains how this works, with reference to the "I" of the untamed mind that causes suffering.

His name was Shantideva, and he had just taught the Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life, one of the greatest practical guides to awakening.

This intention to benefit all beings, Which does not arise in most even for selfish reasons, Is an extraordinary jewel of the mind, And its birth is an unparalleled wonder.

Below you can listen to Tibetan Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron introduce this wonderful text with her characteristic humour.


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