The Elephant and the Fly
By Remez Sasson
A disciple and his teacher were walking through the forest. The disciple was disturbed by the fact that his mind was in constant unrest.
He asked his teacher: "Why most people's minds are restless, and only 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 by, flying and buzzing near its ear. The elephant drove it away with its long ears. Then the fly came again, and the elephant drove 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 just 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, keep my mind focused and calm. Now that I am eating, I am completely immersed in eating. In this way, I can enjoy my food and chew it better. I control my attention, and not the other way around, and this helps me stay peaceful."
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! My mind will always be in constant unrest, if my five senses, and whatever is happening in the world around me, are in control of it. On the other hand, if I am in command of my five senses, able to disregard sense impressions, and able to control my thoughts, my mind will become calm, and I will be able to disregard its restlessness."
"Yes, that's right," answered the teacher,"The mind is restless and goes wherever the attention goes. Control your attention, and you control your mind."