The Secret of Calmness (Stories of Wisdom)


A disciple and his teacher were walking through the forest.

He asked his teacher, “Why do only a few possess a calm mind?

The teacher spoke, “An elephant was once picking leaves from a tree. A small fly came buzzing near his ear. The elephant waved it away with his long ears. The fly came again, and the elephant waved it away once more.

“This was repeated several times. The elephant asked the fly: ‘Why are you so restless and noisy? Why can’t you stay for a while in one place?’ The fly answered: ‘I am attracted to whatever I see, hear or smell.

My five senses, and everything that happens around me, 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. I am in control of my attention, and I can direct it wherever I want. This helps me to get immersed in whatever I do, and therefore, my mind is focussed and calm. Now that I am eating, I am completely immersed in eating. ‘”

Upon hearing these words, the disciple’s eyes opened wide. He looked at his teacher and said, “I understand! My mind will be in constant unrest if my five senses, and whatever is happening in the world around me are distracting me. On the other hand, if I am in command of my five senses, I can disregard sense impressions, and my mind will become 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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